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Pulse of the Amazon

NASA has asked Scientists to look at how record flooding AND droughts in the last decade are affecting the Amazon River.

They’ll be studying the affects of climate change on the vast river might mean for rivers in the U.S.  

Despite the devastation of the Amazon rainforest, the  River itself, remains relatively pristine when it comes to it’s hydrology, the water’s natural flow

“Most rivers in the US have already been dramatically changed," says Leandro Castello, Associate Professor of Fish and Wildlife at Virginia Tech. He's part of a team that will look at how climate change is affecting water levels in the Amazon river basin. Unlike rivers in the U.S. it has relatively few dams, to alter its natural behavior. “In the Amazon that still hasn’t happened so we have  chance to understand the river in its natural condition s before its too late.”

Castello  says they’ll be looking closely at something called the Amazon’s “flood pulse.”  ..the natural ebb and flow of a free flowing river that he says affects pretty much everything in or near it, from fish and wildlife, to farming and flooding.

“By having a better understanding of how a river functions in its natural state we should have a better idea of how to go about efforts to restore rivers and  to understand what we are losing.”

The study will be conducted with a one point two million dollar grant from NASA and the cooperation of the Woods Hole Institute in Massachusetts and the University of Santa Barbara.

Robbie Harris is based in Blacksburg, covering the New River Valley and southwestern Virginia.
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