Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

Drying out

Drying out NASA Earth Observatory
22 Aug
2015
Chile’s government is taking urgent action to prevent a water crisis after continuing low rainfall leaves no end in sight for the drought which has afflicted the country

The past decade has seen long-running drought conditions in Chile, with rainfall as much as 50 per cent below historical rates. Despite brief storms in early July – the first in more than two years to bring more than one inch of rain to the region – the drought shows no sign of relenting.

This has had severe impacts on agricultural production and has become a key cause of forest fires, as well as damaging the domestic copper industry which provides 19 per cent of government revenue. The Atacama desert in northern Chile, already recognised as one of the driest in the world, is now threatening to spread south, towards the seven million inhabitants of the capital, Santiago.

In June, Aarón Cavieres, Executive Director of CONAF, the National Forestry Corporation, announced to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) a plan to invest $250million (£160million) to replant 100,000 hectares of degraded land with native forest.

‘Some $1.5billion has been provided in recent years to recover lands, in areas like forestry, prairies, and agricultural lands,’ Cavieres said. ‘We are proposing goals that we will meet because we are moving in lines of work that reinforce the path to a sustainable forest and environmental sector.’

This follows an announcement from President Michelle Bachelet earlier this year that the government would be looking into building desalinisation plants, as well as investing $170million (£108million) to access underground water sources, build and upgrade canals and improve irrigation systems. ‘There is no choice but to assume that the lack of water resources is a reality that is here to stay,’ she declared.

In the short-term, residents of Santiago and central Chile will likely welcome the prospect of a strong El Niño event this year, due to the heavy rains which tend to arrive during such episodes.

‘This year’s El Niño could rival that of 1997–98, which was one of the strongest on record,’ reports AccuWeather Meteorologist Anthony Sagliani. ‘While El Niño is likely to have a positive impact on the drought, it is not likely to completely stop it moving forward during the next six to nine months.’

This article was published in the September 2015 edition of Geographical Magazine

Related items

Subscribe and Save!

geo line break v3

Free eBooks - Geographical Newsletter

Sign up for our weekly newsletter today and get a FREE eBook collection!

geo line break v3

University of Winchester

geo line break v3

EDUCATION PARTNERS

Aberystwyth University University of Greenwich The University of Derby

TRAVEL PARTNERS

Ponant

Silversea

Travel the Unknown

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in PLACES...

Mapping

Following the collapse of the upstream tailings dam in Brumadinho,…

Mapping

The domestication of animals for food, secondary products, labour and…

Cities

Strap in for a newer, greener experience in virtual city…

Water

A major investment in data collection along the Nile could…

Forests

Several factors are contributing to extreme deforestation in Haiti, with…

Cities

Illegal wells are depleting groundwater basins beneath Tehran causing it…

Mapping

Mapping the trade war between the US and China and…

Mapping

Check out this superb selection of mapping books - ideal…

Water

Glacial melt is increasing  land instability in mountainous regions, with huge tsunamis…

Mapping

A large-scale terrain mapping project makes Antarctica the best-mapped continent…

Water

New research reveals that microplastics can survive in mosquitos from…

Cities

New research measures the ability of major cities to re-use…

Deserts

Biosphere 2 was one of the most ambitious experiments in…

Forests

High-quality, affordable drones can revolutionise the way that landscape and…

Mapping

Benjamin Hennig charts the impact of volcanoes on nearby human…

Mapping

A volunteer-led digital mapping project is at the heart of…

Cities

As the planet urbanises, attention is turning towards the most…

Forests

Palm oil is omnipresent in global consumption. But in many…

Cities

A rising number of cruise ships and their ‘overlooked’ diesel…