Brazil has recently experienced one of its worst droughts in the last 80 years, with wide-ranging consequences for water supply restrictions, energy rationing, and agricultural losses. Northeast and Southeast Brazil, which share the São Francisco River basin (SFRB), have experienced serious precipitation reduction since 2011. We used terrestrial water-storage (TWS) fields, inverted from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) mission measurements, to assess and quantify the ongoing drought over the SFRB. We found a water loss rate of 3.30 km3
/year over the time-span of April 2002 to March 2015. In addition, the TWS drought index (TWSDI) showed the extension of the recent drought that has jeopardized the SFRB since January 2012, and which reached its maximum in July 2015 (the end of TWS time series). In this sense there seems to be a linkage between the TWSDI (wetness/dryness) and the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), in terms of the wavelet coherence, at the semi-annual and biennial bands, suggesting a relationship between the two. While acknowledging that further investigation is needed, we believe that our findings should contribute to the water management policies by quantifying the impact of this drought event over the SFRB.
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