"Climate change cannot be characterised by one single event, but rather by a series over the long term," University of Buenos Aires climatologist Vicente Barros, member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), told Tierramérica.
Because of the growing awareness of the phenomenon, "now, with every event, they ask us if it's climate change," says Barros
with a laugh.
But the public's concern has a solid basis.
Although there have been some small rainstorms, the unusual lack of precipitation during the last several months of 2008 and so far in 2009 in southern and south-western Brazil, central and north-eastern Argentina, southern Paraguay and central and south-western Uruguay is causing million-dollar losses in the agricultural sector, food production and exports.
, along with experts José Marengo of Brazil and Madeleine Renom of Uruguay, told Tierramérica that it is impossible to assert that the current drought is an unequivocal manifestation of climate change, because the weather changes must be assessed over the long term.
In Argentina, noted Barros
, there were more frequent intense storms with precipitation in the last 20 years in the central region - which indeed can be defined as a climate change.
doesn't think the drought is the result of La Niña either.
"We can attribute part of what happened in November and December (to La Niña), but in January and February it no longer has an effect in our region.
However, it could be that in March we will once again feel its impact," he