Amazon River Extremes

by Captain Bill

The Amazon is a river of extremes. In September of 2010 the Amazon River water level was nearly a half meter lower than the previously recorded low. Usually records are broken by centimeters, not by half a meter. You could have walked across the Itaya river. That’s extreme!

You could have walked across the Rio Itaya. Photo of Belen during the lowest water level on record, by Patty Webster

The high water season is always a result of glacier and snow melt in the Andes, combined with the transpiration of the warm moist air from the jungle rising up the east slope of the Andes, meeting the cooler mountain air, creating a convection, which causes a rain system to develop, and finally mixes with the runoff from the normal rainfall over the Amazon rainforest creating flooding all along the way downstream.

My view of the Rio Itaya at flood stage on April 24th, 2011, sitting high and dry at my computer

Whether climate change is man made or a natural cycle, it is an undeniable fact of life. Marmelita and I traveled to Huaraz Peru. We hired a car to take us 70 kilometers up to the end of a switch-back road where a small village barely exists at what used to be the edge of the Pastoruri Glacier. From that village, Marmelita had to ride horseback part way and hike the rest of the way to the edge of the glacier. We can confirm that glacier has been melting and receding from that village for years. What that means may be open to interpretation but I know for a fact the Pastoruri Glacier is getting smaller.

My view from the third floor of the Dawn on the Amazon building on December 1st 2010. When this photo was taken the river had already risen 3 meters from the all time recorded low.

Amazon River Extremes

Bill Grimes has published over 345 articles on the Captain’s Blog about Iquitos, the rivers and the surrounding rainforest. Check them out.

Check out other articles on this subject;

Amazon Flooding More Than Usual;

Flood Victims In The Amazon;

Amazon Water Level September 20th 2010;

Amazon Promise; Be sure to check out Patty Webster’s Amazon Promise web site. She’s saving lives and changing lives. So can you!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Mark April 26, 2011 at 1:30 pm

Nice summary, Bill !

Yes, I have been up to that place in the Cordillera Blanca, the gllacier is almost gone. Certainly people-CO2 is contributing greatly to warming but the glaciers have been melting since the end of the last ice age (10,000 years ag) and I try to not feel guilty 🙂

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