Climatology and Geography of South America

A fundamental aspect for being able to face risks and uncertainties, which South America confronts, is an understanding of its geographical location and climatology (IADB 2001).

tte geographical location provides the main explanation for the extreme natural phenomena that cause great disasters in the region, ttis region is extremely prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, because its territory is located on some tectonic plates, along the Pacific Ring of Fire.

Climate variability is extreme. Evidence of it are the occurrence of severe droughts, floods, cold waves and winds caused by the El NiƱo events, by the annual North-South displacement of the Inter-tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) and by the entrance of frontal systems (Fig. 5.1). Recent climate changes seem to have aggravated climate variability in the region.

tte degree of vulnerability in the region, in relation to extreme natural phenomena is not only determined by its geographic location and climate patterns, but also by several socio-economic factors that increase the vulnerability to these natural hazards, i.e. settling of populations in some places inappropriate to agriculture, environmental degradation, etc.

ANTICYCLONE

OF THE SOUTH PACIFIC

PERUVIAN CURRENT

FRONTAL SYSTEMS

jANTICYC OF Th $OUTHm

Fig. 5.1. Atmospheric processes affecting climate in South America

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