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Imagine rivers even bigger than the Amazon river, with billions of tons of water, cutting through several Brazilian states and passing over our heads. Sim. "Flying Rivers" exist.

The term describes a real phenomenon., whose impact is gigantic on our lives and determinant for the balance of the ecosystem and biodiversity. They are formed by huge volumes of water vapor carried by the winds., often, accompanied by clouds. Although we don't see them, the Flying Rivers are about three kilometers high and thousands of kilometers long.

The importance of these water flows became popular in Brazil after the “Rivers Voadores Expedition”, created by aviator and environmentalist Gerard Moss. The project was conceived after long conversations that began in 2006 between Moss and Professor Antonio Donato Nobre. It also had the collaboration of Professor Eneas Salati and other scientists involved in the topic, as José Antonio Marengo, Pedro Dias and Reinaldo Victoria.

Gerard Moss flew thousands of kilometers following the air currents and taking water vapor samples to prove and record, in practice, what researchers had already discovered about the flow and formation of the so-called Flying Rivers.

These air and water currents, invisible to us, pass over fields areas, forests and cities carrying moisture from the Amazon Basin to the Midwest regions, Southeast and South of Brazil. The process of formation of the Flying Rivers originally begins in the Atlantic Ocean. The Amazon forest works as a water pump. It pulls moisture evaporated in the sea into the continent. already on land, the humidity falls like rain on the forest.

With the transpiration of trees and plants, the forest returns rainwater to the atmosphere in the form of steam. It's a constant cycle, with the air always recharged with more humidity. The large mass of moisture is transported westwards by the winds.. Part of it falls again as rain along the way, but huge amounts of water vapor follow until it collides with the Andes Mountains.

in this meeting, the mountain range receives a generous portion of this moisture, forming the headwaters of the Amazon rivers. But there is still a lot of water vapor being carried away by the wind currents.. When faced with a 4,000 meter high wall formed by the Andes, the Flying Rivers turn and head south, towards states like Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais, São Paulo, Paraná and Santa Catarina. They also regulate rainfall in neighboring countries, like Bolivia and Paraguay. The rain brought by the Flying Rivers irrigates crops, fills rivers and dams and, for all this, sustains the Brazilian economy.

“The Flying Rivers explain the mystery for the region that goes from Cuiabá to Buenos Aires and São Paulo to be green and humid. This quadrilateral represents 70% of South America's GDP, with hydroelectric plants, industries, agriculture and large centers that depend on climate balance and water supply to exist. The aerial steam rivers that the Amazon exports to these areas go against the normal tendency of this region to be desert.. This immense environmental services plant is the largest technological park the Earth has ever known", explains Antônio Donato Nobre, scientist at the National Institute of Scientific Research (inpe).

It is estimated that there are about 600 billions of trees in the Amazon. The big trees in the forest have very deep roots., pump water from the groundwater, a 50, 60 meters deep, and the leaves evaporate.

Studies by the National Institute of Amazonian Research (INPA) show that a single leafy tree, with cup of 20 meters in diameter, can transpire more than a thousand liters of water a day. Across the Amazon, is a volume that reaches 20 billion tons of water daily. A portion larger than the Amazon River, responsible for 17 billion tons of water.

The damage from deforestation

The replacement of forests by agriculture and pasture, as well as the burnings and the opening of clearings for mining, cause dramatic changes to the climate of South America. As you advance deeper into the forest, agribusiness tends to reduce the essential rainfall for plantations.

The human and predatory impact on the forest has already changed the rain cycle across the country, a fact that harms the good performance of the Brazilian economy and the global climate.

Brazil has a privileged situation with regard to water resources. Although, the water cycle in the country depends on the Amazon forest and, due to deforestation and the decrease of green areas, the biome may have reached an irreversible point of recovery, with very serious consequences. Inpe Satellites (National Institute for Space Research) prove that many areas in the Amazon are no longer forests; turned into savannas.

“The Amazon produces its own climate, favorable to its existence and balance. With deforestation, this benefit is lost. We are turning an environmental service plant into CO2. The most logical conclusion is that we are killing the 'chicken that lays the golden eggs'. the worsening of the climate, due to deforestation, it is irrefutable.

Different regions of the Earth are suffering a similar impact due to the suppression of green areas. lost forest, get ready for an inhospitable climate, because, took the tree, took out that ecosystem service, which is also very important for the survival of the population", warns Antonio Donato Nobre.

It is not just agribusiness that will suffer the impacts

E, in this case, it's not just agriculture that ends up harmed. The imbalance caused by deforestation in the Amazon interferes with the climate of large cities.

The concept of the Flying Rivers also emerged from research by the climatologist José Antonio Marengo, coordinator of the Center for Weather Forecasting and Climate Studies (CPTEC), of the Inpe, who works with natural disasters. For him, it is necessary to observe what happens with the climate situation, because, No brazil, natural disasters are related to water; both in the face of heavy rains that cause landslides and floods and severe droughts.

"This worries us. If there is more intense rain in vulnerable areas like São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro, increases the possibility of, no future, even more natural disasters associated with heavy rains, such as landslides and floods in urban and rural areas, for example. No brazil, these phenomena cause the loss of many lives", said Marengo, in an interview with BBC World.

Forests pump moisture and are fundamental for the Flying Rivers to follow their courses and distribute rain evenly along the way.. And research results show that these rivers are as vulnerable to human actions as the other rivers we know. They represent a system that is fully connected and dependent on forest preservation.

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