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Drought that snarled Panama canal was linked to El Niño

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By illuminem briefings

· 2 min read

illuminem summarizes for you the essential news of the day. Read the full piece on the New York Times or enjoy below:

🗞️ Driving the news: The Panama Canal has faced a severe drought, leading to reduced cargo traffic due to low reservoir levels
• The drought is attributed to El Niño's natural climate cycle, not global warming. This has caused significant disruptions in canal operations, though crossings have begun to recover

🔭 The context: Panama's water supply and canal operations depend heavily on the May-to-December rainy season
• In 2023, rainfall was a quarter below normal, making it the third-driest year on record
• Past droughts in 1997-98 and 2015-16 also coincided with El Niño conditions

🌍 Why it matters for the planet: The drought highlights the potential for water scarcity to severely impact global shipping and local residents
• With Panama's population and trade growing, future El Niño years could exacerbate disruptions to the canal and drinking water supply

⏭️ What's next: While El Niño is expected to weaken, future water issues could persist
• Researchers acknowledge the need for further study to understand trends and prevent potential future disruptions

💬 One quote: “Even small changes in precipitation can bring disproportionate impacts,” (Maja Vahlberg, a consultant for the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Center)

📈 One stat: The drought in 2023 led to rainfall being 25% below normal, causing the canal's reservoirs to reach record lows for the start of the dry season

Click for more news covering the latest on climate change


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