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Climate change disrupts astronomical calculations for Amazon Indians

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Rio de Janeiro, Apr 1 (EFE).- Forecasts that Brazil's Amazonian Indians make with guidance from the stars to determine the best time to fish and plant crops are being disrupted by climate change.

"Shamans say their forecasts are becoming inexact and we find that certain phenomena caused by climate change are disrupting their calculations," astronomer Germano Afonso, coordinator of a study among indigenous groups, told Efe.

Afonso, who built and operates an observatory in the Amazon region, said that observing the constellations and their movement in the firmament allows shamans to forecast the seasons of rain and drought, the rise and fall of water levels in the rivers, the fertility of the earth and the spawning of fish.

"With the help of Western science, we noted that some conditions caused by climate change are undermining their forecasts, such as rains coming either late or early because of phenomena like El Niño and deforestation," the scientist said.

After identifying the problem, researchers launched a project to communicate some Western scientific knowledge to the shamans to help them correct their forecasts.

"We're using modern astronomic calculations and data collected from weather stations in the region to help them perfect their calculations," Afonso said.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/agencia-efe/130401/climate-change-disrupts-astronomical-calculations-amazon-indians