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Drought, fires and fish mortality: how far will the impact of high temperatures go?


Since November there is one degree more than the average, both in the north and in the south of the country. The dangers and how to take care.

It seems like a denial of the obvious.

What it feels like in the body.

But this week we are not in a heat wave throughout Argentina.

Not even in Buenos Aires, where this Tuesday the 34th were not desired.

Until now it only affects the north of Entre Ríos, the south of Corrientes and part of Salta, Formosa and Chaco.

Beyond a January sun that hits so hard on the skin and on the cell phone weather app, the exact weather condition for this phenomenon to occur involves

exceeding minimum and maximum temperature thresholds for three days in a row.

A floor that is 22°C and a ceiling of 32.3°. 

In the City and the Province, for example, on Sunday 32°5 were reached but the minimum was 19.4°;

on Monday it climbed to 35.4° and the lowest temperature was 21°.

On Tuesday, on the other hand, the expected maximum did burn and also the minimum: 23 °.

It was a single day, then, crossing thresholds.

There was, for now, no heat wave.

For the next few days temperatures are expected between 30°C and 35°C in the City and between 27°C and 29° on the Atlantic coast.

Drought and heat also cause a water crisis and the downflow of rivers and lagoons. Photo: Ignacio Blanco / Los Andes

But you can't cover the sun with your hand.

We inhabit

an increasingly hot planet.

Since the beginning of summer in the country there has been an

unusual phenomenon

with the weather for this time.

And there were several episodes of "jumps" of heat, with records that broke thresholds after six decades. 

This has been felt since November in the temperatures of both northern and southern locations, which

are 1°C above the average. 

The rest of the consequences of climate change are also perceived


which are already being noticed today in the country, without the need to wait for worse endings, 300 years from now.

Why happens?

Why is Argentina hotter?

Why will records continue to be broken?

In parallel,

the drought worsens, there are more fires and the

massive mortality of fish in rivers and lagoons

is even news .

In the forests of the southern provinces, higher temperatures and a lack of rain increase the risks of forest fires.

unusual weather

Although sustained temperatures of more than 30 degrees are to be expected in January, you have to look at the previous months to notice the mark of an

unusual phenomenon of high temperatures for this time.

Cindy Fernández, a specialist from the National Meteorological Service (SMN), explains to


that you have to focus on

November and December.

Two months already "extreme".

"Extremely high temperatures have continued to affect much of Argentina until now. But since November there have already been several heat wave events, each with

records in different cities,"

he says. 

Although it is not very usual during November, which is spring,

early heat waves had already been registered.

 Due to their extension, those of 2009, 2008, 1995 and 1985 stand out. It is that, according to Fernandez, 

for 60 years there has been a tendency for temperatures in Argentina to increase. 

In San Luis and Córdoba there were six days of heat wave in November, with a range between 34.8° and 40.5° and a floor of about 24.8°.

There were five days in Rosario, with highs of up to 37.6° and floors of 23.2°;

also in the Buenos Aires city of San Martín (38.4° and 22.8°);

It happened three days in a row in Pilar, with up to 38.9, and in Ezeiza or El Palomar, with highs of 34.2° and lows of 23.4°.

Already in January, between the 3rd and the 11th, for example, there was a

heat wave in Patagonia

that was later felt in the center of the country.

 But in Santa Cruz, marks, not at all frequent, of 30° were reported.

In Viedma, in Río Negro, the maximum temperature touched 40° for four consecutive days.

Very close, in Trelew, Chubut, the maximums were between 33° and 35.5°.

In the capital Córdoba and Sauce Viejo, in the south of Santa Fe, the maximum for four days was 39°.

The causes?

According to the climate experts from Conicet that


interviewed , always depending on the area of ​​Argentina and the moment, below this Argentine heat is

that hotter planet.

Dead fish in Laguna del Plata, Santa Fe. Photo @vprandina

The local record, meanwhile, is explained because

"the entry of cold fronts" did not occur.

In the north, to mention a specific sector,

"it doesn't rain and the days are very sunny"

, two conditions that raise the marks.

Even so,

the temperature also rises due to the drought due to the La Niña phenomenon

, which favors those clear skies and no precipitation. 

"La Niña promotes the predominance of higher than normal pressures, which are maintaining little cloudiness and

favoring the flow of warm air from the north.

In addition, due to the drought, the general conditions of the soils are drier and that contributes to a

greater increase in daytime temperatures

," Leandro Díaz, doctor of Atmospheric Sciences and Conicet researcher, told this newspaper.

It must be understood that there are variations in the climate on the scales of "weeks" (not seasons) that can contribute to some weeks being much warmer than others.

"That is why continuous monitoring is important, to know how the situation will continue."

Fernández details that more in the north but also in some towns in the south, although this warm air mass will continue for a few more weeks,

there will be relief in some sectors

"as a result of storms or coastal breezes."

This week the south and center of the country are expected to return to “usual” temperatures.

By the end of the month, two cold fronts could already pass, alternating warm and cool periods.

But the quarterly forecast indicates that

warm conditions will persist in a large part of the national territory

, especially in Patagonia and the center, with less rain than normal.

The impact

At the country level, then, La Niña and the drought raise temperatures at this time.

"But the trends associated with climate change also generally contribute to hotter summers and a greater frequency of extreme warm events, such as heat waves," clarifies climatologist Diaz.

There is growing concern in the country and throughout South America about heat waves, which have become more frequent and severe in recent decades.

That is

an effect of climate change.

A study carried out by World Weather Attribution (WWA) and published at the end of December concluded that the heat wave in northern Argentina

was 60 times more likely and 1.4°C warmer

than it would have been without the warming effect. anthropogenic (produced by the action of humanity).

What consequences does it have?

"High temperatures can have different types of impacts. Prolonged exposure brings serious damage to health, hydration, acclimatization and avoiding exposure as much as possible is very important; it generates

conditions conducive to fires

; it generates greater evaporation, which is particularly unfavorable in the current situation of


in many parts of the country. It also generates greater demand for electricity, which ends with cuts," says Diaz.

Regarding fires, based on an artificial learning algorithm called

Random Forest

, a team from the Institute for Research on Biodiversity and Environment (INIBIOMA, CONICET-UNCo) predicted a not very encouraging local outlook for the future.

And he reconfirms it to



“Our work refers to long-term predictions (mid and end of the century), not to seasons.

But although we expected increases in fire probabilities for the region, what surprised us the most is the

magnitude of the changes

that are expected even under relatively optimistic emission scenarios", details Thomas Kitzberger, CONICET researcher at INIBIOMA and first author. of the study.

This implies that

large-scale fires

, such as those that occurred at Lake Mascardi in 1999, Lake Cholila in 2015, or the one in 2022 at Lake Steffen-Martin," instead of occurring once a decade ,

could be repeated every five or two years

. depending on the expected climate scenario". 

Patagonia is a "very sensitive system to climatic variations" and, says the expert, "we are going to have an increase in temperature and a decrease in rainfall,

two seasonings that are perfect for fire


The work also addressed the vulnerability of natural ecosystems, which reflects the

lack of adaptive capacity of the species

that make it up in the face of these changes in the frequency of fires.

Dead fish

On the coast of the Salado River, at the height of National Route 5, in the province of Buenos Aires, and in Santa Fe,

thousands of dead fish appeared.

It happened over the weekend in rivers and lagoons that have historical downpipes due to the drought.

This scene, almost apocalyptic, of shoals in apocalyptic decomposition, is explained to this newspaper by Pablo Collins, Conicet's main researcher in Earth, Water and Atmosphere Sciences.

It also has to do with

high temperatures.

"The temperature of 40° in that area is associated with a drought in the Plata basin, of the Paraná River, that has been going on for more than three years. The dissolved oxygen in the water tends to rise towards the environment. At the same time, having More heat, there are more organisms that increase their metabolism and consume more oxygen. And more microorganisms that increase their decomposition and that also consumes more oxygen," says Collins.

Specifically, there is an increase in ions and cations and also in excreta from the animals that inhabit this aquatic environment.


"lower water quality"


It decreases so much that it is no

longer suitable for the subsistence

of even the most resistant fish.

"The lagoons that are fed by rainwater evaporate, because there is no precipitation. As the water level decreases, all the concentrations of ions and cations increase to inappropriate levels. The organisms remain dead on the surface and that leads

to an even higher mortality spiral and oxygen consumption".

This can lead to the production of

algae that can be toxic

and lead to the death of other species in the same system.

"It's a chain," she sums up.

Fish kill events occur.

They are natural.

But more during the winter, due to the low water level in those four months.

"In summer it's more difficult. But at other times, when we didn't have these downspouts. Summer always had the river with a lot of flow. On this occasion, the downspout, the high temperature, and the drought

 were the combo of this massive mortality

, "

close the expert.


look also

Tuesday of intense heat and humidity: the weather forecast for Tuesday, January 24

Climate change: time to make up for lost time

Source: clarin

All life articles on 2023-01-25

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