Without rain, a rainforest doesn't last too long. For the second time this decade, drought grips the Amazon Basin. The lack of rain is drying up rivers like the Rio Negro, a main tributary of the mighty Amazon.
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Last year the Rio Negro hit a record high of 98 feet. Now it is at the lowest level since records began in 1902. The river dropped to a low of 45 feet on October 24.
The drought is primarily drying out the northwest region of Brazil, near the borders with Colombia and Peru. The same region suffered drought in 2005.
Shrinking waterways are affecting everyone who depends on the Amazon River and its tributaries, from soy farmers on the Rio Madeira to indigenous fisherman. Many people have been stranded without river transport, since only the smallest boats can navigate the shriveled waterways.
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In Brazil's Amazonas state, 62,000 people are affected by drought. Many are running out of food. Fish and other wildlife are dying as habitats disappear and the water warms up.
Recently, deforestation has been dramatically reduced in Brazil, but the forest is still being destroyed by fires. The drought allows fires to spread easily. Less forests produce less rain, and less rain leads to more forest fires. Some ecologists worry that the Amazon may reach a tipping point, where the ecosystem's destruction will fuel itself.
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Brazil's newly elected president, Dilma Rousseff, faces a serious environmental and social crisis.
PHOTO: Large Amazonian riverboats like this one can't travel in drought stricken regions; Wikimedia Commons