Drought Disrupts the Panama Canal

Low water levels have caused problems before, but the issue is becoming more frequent.

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Panama Canal Drought
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The idea of the Panama Canal suffering from water shortages may seem counterintuitive considering that it spans just 50 miles between two oceans. However, the functioning of the canal’s lock system relies on freshwater supplies coming primarily from the manmade lakes Gatun and Alajuela. Due to a lack of rain, the Panama Canal Authority this year has implemented several water conservation and canal restriction measures to accommodate lower water levels, and bids to secure passage have hit record highs.

Droughts have threatened to disrupt the canal’s operations at other times in recent memory, namely 2019-20 and 2014-16. What is concerning is that droughts have been occurring more frequently. Reduced traffic at the canal is expected to last for at least another four months, sparking concerns about supply chains and inflation.

Geopolitical Futures
Geopolitical Futures (GPF) was founded in 2015 by George Friedman, international strategist and author of The Storm Before the Calm and The Next 100 Years. GPF is non-ideological, analyzes the world and forecasts the future using geopolitics: political, economic, military and geographic dimensions at the foundation of a nation.