Brazil continues to get drier in 2021

MapBiomas Água platform incorporates 2021 data and now offers monthly figures

On World Water Day 2022, MapBiomas presents the new features of its data platform on the surface area covered with water in the Brazilian territory. Maps and statistics for 2021 were updated and the data can be consulted on a monthly basis. In addition, official reservoirs from the National Water Agency's (ANA) database have been integrated into the platform.

The picture of the current situation is worrying. The historical series between 1985 and 2020 had shown a 15.7% decrease in the area covered with water in the national territory. Last year brought no signs of relief in this trend: the surface area covered with water remains stationary at 16.5 million hectares, reflecting the water crisis that struck the country and prevented the recovery of the water surface area lost in previous years. In January and February 2022, the changes were not significant: All data are now available at https://plataforma.brasil.mapbiomas.org/agua.

"In addition to the climate factor, which has a more important weight each year, because of the change in rainfall regime and the duration of drought periods, water areas in Brazil are affected by changes in land use and land cover, dam and hydroelectric construction and pollution," explains Carlos Souza, coordinator of the Water WG of MapBiomas. "While the water surface area is shrinking, suggesting less availability of this resource, there are no indications that its use has decreased. On the contrary: the excessive use of water resources, including groundwater, for the production of goods, food and services is one of the factors that have altered the quality and availability of water in all Brazilian biomes", he adds.

Another new feature of MapBiomas Água is that the mapping of Andean glaciers has already been completed and the mapping and monitoring of water in South America is in full expansion. Carlos Souza explains that "42% of the total glacier area of the Andes retreated from 1990 to 2020, indicating that the climate factor is a strong vector of change in water availability in the continent".

In a webinar held this Tuesday (22), the connections of surface water with groundwater were explored in a series of lightning talks, as well as the factors that may explain the reduction in surface water in Brazil.

About MapBiomas

A multi-institutional initiative, involving universities, NGOs and technology companies, focused on monitoring the transformations in land cover and land use in Brazil. This platform is today the most complete, up-to-date and detailed spatial database of land use in one country available in the world. All MapBiomas data, maps, methods and codes are publicly available and free of charge on the initiative's website: mapbiomas.org