AMAZON RIVER BASIN (Syllabus: GS Paper 1 – Geography)

News-CRUX-10     30th October 2023        

Context: The Amazon river basin is currently experiencing a severe drought, which has caused the region’s waterways to reach their lowest levels since the early 20th Century.

Amazon River Basin

  • About: It is the greatest river of South America and the largest drainage system in the world in terms of the volume of its flow and the area of its basin.
  • Course: Its excursion begins in the Andes Mountains, high in the Andes.
  • Coverage Areas: The Amazon River Basin spans across several South American countries including Venezuela, Suriname, Peru, Guyana, Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia, and Bolivia.
  • Distance: 6,400 kilometers.
  • Tributaries: It contains about 1,100 tributaries.
  • Among the numerous notable tributaries are the Rio Negro, the Madeira River, and the Xingu River.
  • Home to 4 Different Species of Caiman: Black caiman (Melanosuchus niger), spectacled caiman (Caiman crocodilus), Cuvier’s dwarf caiman (Paleosuchus palpebrosus), and smooth-fronted caiman (Paleosuchus trigonatus).

Causes of the Severe Drought

  • Onset of El Niño: This event refers to an abnormal warming of surface waters in the equatorial Pacific Ocean.
  • Extreme heat: The warming associated with El Niño exacerbates drought conditions, leading to a decrease in humidity and a lack of rainfall. 
  • High water temperatures: During El Niño, the northern tropical Atlantic Ocean experiences unusually high water temperatures.
  • Deforestation: Rampant deforestation leads to the destruction of vast areas of vegetation, contributing to rising temperatures and a reduction in evapotranspiration, a crucial process for the water balance in the region.
  • Mining: Disorganised mineral extraction results in the creation of banks of land that are harmful to navigation.
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