Currently — February 17th, 2023

What you need to know, currently.

La Niña is causing the multi-year drought in Central South America, according to a study released Thursday.

Climate change is, of course, also playing a role, as it’s worsening some of the dry spell’s impacts. However, the climate condition La Niña—or the cooling of the central Pacific waters, which results in changing weather patterns worldwide—has gone on longer than usual this time, and is exacerbating the drought.

Since 2019, the dry spell has been devastating the region. Last year was Central Argentina’s driest year since 1960; Uruguay declared an agricultural emergency in October; water supplies and transportation suffered; and vulnerable farmers and residents are facing the brunt of the climate disaster. The last four months of 2022 received only 44 percent of the average precipitation—the lowest rainfall in 35 years.

Water and heat stress is resulting in widespread crop failures across the region’s farm belts as well. For example, crop health in Argentina is reportedly the worst it’s been in 40 years, as it saw a 61 percent decrease in grain and oilseed revenue between January 2022 and January 2023.

It will likely take months, if not longer, for the region to recover, depending on El Niño’s arrival.

—Aarohi Sheth

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