Brazil's Extreme Drought Seen From Space

Narration: Joy Ng


New NASA satellite images provide a dramatic view from space of Brazil’s ongoing drought.

Scientists have observed changes to Brazil’s water levels using NASA’s GRACE satellites since their launch in 2002.

This data visualization created from satellite measurements shows how Brazil’s water levels have varied over time.

Red and orange are areas with water losses; blues are gains.

Current losses are centered in eastern Brazil, home to two of the country’s largest cities: Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

Eastern Brazil has been on a recent roller coaster of dry and wet periods.

GRACE satellite data shows a dry period in the early 2000s, followed by a wet period, and then another dry period that has led to the current drought.

Among other factors, lack of rainfall has contributed to the dry conditions in eastern Brazil.

Since 2012, eastern Brazil has experienced water losses averaging 28 trillion gallons per year.

The prolonged drought has not only lead to these losses, but it has disrupted many of the country’s electricity and water resources.

Brazil has an extensive network of rivers that feed into reservoirs and dams, which generate more than 75 percent of the country’s electrical power supply.

A number of Brazil’s reservoirs have reached their lowest water levels since 2005 including Itaipu, one of the world’s largest hydroelectric power stations.

Using satellites, we’ll continue to monitor the region and future changes to Brazil’s water resources.