Cows can be seen on January 9, 2019 at Aculeo Lagoon in Paine, Chile, on a land that was once filled with water. REUTERS / Rodrigo Garrido
August 10, 2021
By Esteban Medel
Santiago (Reuters) – A decade of severe drought in Chile has been exacerbated by the scorching heat of July. Midwinter weather usually causes rain and snow in the capital Santiago this month.
However, due to lack of rainfall this year, the normally snow-capped Andes that rise above the city have become almost naked, the levels of reservoirs have dropped, and the fields have dried. According to government officials, this scene is clear evidence of global warming.
On Tuesday, the central Santiago meteorological station recorded only 78 mm (3 inches) of rainfall so far this year, compared to 180 mm last year and an average of 252 mm, according to the Chilean Meteorological Service.
Science Minister Andres Kowe told Reuters on Tuesday that the steady decline in water reserves due to climate change is now a “national priority.”
He added that the government is addressing the crisis by investing in water conservation and storage, creating a post for Deputy Secretary of Water, and establishing a working group of scientists on water management and a climate change observatory.
“We already have overwhelming evidence, which is proof of the climate,” he said. “We are seeing a very large reduction in rainfall, which is causing water scarcity.”
On Monday, UN climate scientists warned that extreme heat waves that occurred once every 50 years are now expected to occur once every 10 years.
Droughts and heavy rains are also becoming more frequent, a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said, and humans “clearly” condemn greenhouse gas emissions.
According to Coob, Chile has the world’s driest deserts, glaciers, forests and wetlands to the north, with Antarctica in Antarctica, and a wealth of evidence that climate change is actually happening.
“Scientific evidence is there, but weather events happen at a frequency and intensity that makes people very visible,” he said.
Some Chilean scientists and politicians have said that water shortages are widening in the central region, where the Mediterranean climate is home to vineyards and farms and accounts for one-third of the country’s economic engine, Santiago. Warns that it is potentially irreversible.
The two rivers that supply Santiago, the Mapocho and Maipo rivers, are drier than 2019, the driest year in Chile’s history, Alfredo Moreno, Minister of Public Works, told regulators. We restricted their use and urged them to look for alternative water sources.
Chilean utilities have invested heavily in new infrastructure to avoid the arrival of “Day Zero.” This is a threat that has recently caused major water restrictions in Cape Town, South Africa and Chennai, India.
But that day, “We arrived for nearly 400,000 people living in rural Chile, and today we are receiving water at a tank truck,” said Raul Cordero, a climatologist at the University of Santiago and leader of the Antarctic research group. Says.
Cordero said the situation facing rural communities in central Chile is likely to spread and worsen over time.
“It is unlikely that the rainfall that once existed in the central region in the 1980s and 1990s will return or that its climate will recover,” he said.
Chile needs to build more reservoirs and desalination plants, which are increasingly dependent on its important mining sector, he added.
“Our only advantage is that we know how climate change will hit us the most, so we know what we need to do to face the consequences,” he said. Said.
(Report by Reuters TV, written by Dave Sherwood and Icelin Rain, edited by Aurora Ellis)