Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2010, Vol. 20 ›› Issue (6): 938-946.doi: 10.1007/s11442-010-0822-5

• Hydrology and Water Resources • Previous Articles     Next Articles

A long-term annual water balance analysis of the Araçuaí|River Basin, Brazil

LEITE Mariangela Garcia Praça, FUJACO Maria Augusta Gonçalves   

  1. Federal University of Ouro Preto, Geology Department, Campos Morro do Cruzeiro, 35400-000 Ouro Preto, Minas Gerais, Brazil
  • Received:2010-01-17 Revised:2010-03-10 Online:2010-12-15 Published:2010-12-15


Semi-arid and arid areas exhibit great temporal variability in water availability. In some of these regions, a one- or two-day rainfall is followed by intervening dry periods of variable length. In recent decades, many rivers of the semi-arid portion of the Jequitinhonha Basin have been undergoing a progressive discharge reduction, mainly of their base flow, the Araçuaí River is one of them. In order to understand this transformation, a long-term analysis of the annual water balance of the Araçuaí River Basin was performed, the results of which are presented herein. Satellite images, hydrometeorological and river discharge data were analyzed; mean and variance tests were conducted to determine temporal homogeneity. Historical pluviometric data analysis shows no corresponding precipitation reduction and temperature undergoes only a slight increase in the same period. On the other hand, evaporation is extremely high, higher than precipitation during most of the year, leaving almost no water for infiltration (aquifer recharge) and runoff. Furthermore, the Araçuaí headwaters of its tributaries are now occupied by a monoculture, Eucaliptus sp., used for paper production. Because of the decreased fluvial discharges, its lowlands, usually used for agriculture and pasture, are abandoned and partially eroded.

Key words: river discharge, evaporation, Jequitinhonha Basin