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The unique coming together of water in tropical Brazil.

The ‘Cerrado’ – also known as the “Cradle of Waters” of South America – has a unique hydrological cycle that brings together 8 of the 12 major water basins of the continent within the geographic limits of the tropical eco-region of eastern Brazil.

The Cerrado includes three major biomes: grasslands, savannahs and forests. Predominantly, savannahs have very deep roots – so deep that for years they were dubbed “inverted forests” as most of the biomass is underground: these roots absorb water from the depths of the soil and return it to the atmosphere as water vapor, which condenses in the atmosphere to create rain.

This biosphere-atmosphere interaction completes Earth’s water cycle and is fundamental for the so-called ‘Flying Rivers’ that transport the dense humidity emanating from the Amazon Forest to south-eastern Brazil. The ‘Flying Rivers’ consist of the evaporation from the trees and their subsequent precipitation a hundred-fold over the Cerrado savannahs.

Academia has long discussed the importance of this hydrological cycle to the world, but the Cerrado gained popularity as a region due to rampant deforestation, which breaks the hydrological cycle by keeping water underground; consequently, the Cerrado is getting hotter and drier: about 80% of its known endemic flora is under threat of extinction.

This VIEWS portrays the hydrological cycle in the Brazilian Cerrado, and the consequence of its rupture, which will lead to the fourth physical state of water: absence.

The Casca d´Anta waterfall. With a 186m is the highest fall from the São Francisco River, one of the most important rivers in Brazil.
Detail of the Casca d´Anta waterfall. The fall is located in the ‘Cradle’ of the São Francisco River.
Misty morning in the Canastra Moutains National Park, Minas Gerais state.
Fog at the Jalapão State Park, Tocantins state.
Misty landscape with typical Cerrado vegetation. The plants take water from the ground with its deep roots and put it back into the atmosphere.
Typical summer storm at the Cerrado region. The vegetation paints green in the rainy season.
Buracão waterfall inside the Chapada Diamantina National Pak, Bahia state.
Open savannah with Vereda (palm swamps) at the Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park, Goiás state.
Colourful sunrise during the fall in the Cerrado, highlighting the contorted shape of the savannah trees.
Early spring storm over a soil prepared for large scale monocultures that affect the Cerrado. This is the main cause of soil loss and degradation.
Typical large scale monoculture-oriented landscape that now occupied more than a fourth of the Cerrado, mainly for soybeans and maize.