Brazil suffers from heat, fires ― and floods
Brazil is suffering in extreme weather conditions. While the north and center are experiencing persistent drought and a heat wave unprecedented for this time of year, heavy rainfall in the south has caused severe floods.
It's not even summer yet in the Southern Hemisphere, but large parts of Latin America are already experiencing a severe heat wave. In Brazil, temperatures climbed to over 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) last week. Large crowds have crowded Rio de Janeiro's Praia Vermelha beach, trying to cool off.
This woman found a way to cool down while waiting for a concert by US pop star Taylor Swift in Rio de Janeiro. During Swift's first concert on Friday, a 23-year-old woman died of cardiac arrest. Organizers are facing criticism because no water was allowed to be taken into the stadium. On the day of the concert, the heat index, which combines air temperature with humidity, had risen to 59 Celsius.
Beat the heat
It's similarly hot in the center of the country. This girl in Sao Paulo was lucky to cool off in a fountain. In the metropolis of more than 12 million people, a 2-year-old died after being forgotten in a school van during the heat wave. The National Meteorological Institute classified the situation in 15 federal states and the district around the capital, Brasilia as very dangerous.
Wetlands on fire
In the Pantanal, the world's largest wetlands, drought and the heat have resulted in the worst fires in 20 years, as seen here as huge clouds of smoke darken the sky above Porto Jofre. The affected states of Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul have declared a state of emergency.
Sad new record
Brazilian media have reported that more than 3,000 fires were registered in November alone, a new record. According to experts, the fires are primarily due to human activity, in particular the use of slash-and-burn techniques in agriculture. The drought and heat is making the situation even worse.
The fires have already affected 35,000 hectares (86,500 acres) of the Pantanal, which in total is roughly the size of the United Kingdom. Here in the Encontro das Aguas National Park, the fires are threatening the habitat of one of the largest jaguar populations in the world. The University of Rio de Janeiro estimates that 34% of the park has already been destroyed.
While central and northern Brazil are suffering from heat and drought, people in the south of the country have the opposite problem. Floods and landslides caused by heavy rainfall claimed at least six lives in the states of Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul last week.
Several towns in Rio Grande do Sul were flooded when the Taquari River burst its banks. This includes Roca Sales, shown here, where dozens of volunteers are working to remove the brown mud and debris left behind by the river from the streets.
In recent months, southern Brazil — like here in Sao Sebastiao do Cai — has been hit hard by extreme weather events such as torrential rain and a hurricane in September that killed more than 50 people. According to experts, many of these disasters were made worse by climate change.