A severe drought is limiting the number of ships that can pass through the Panama Canal, disrupting shipping routes, delaying deliveries, and driving up the cost of crossing. Panama is experiencing one of its driest periods in the 110 years of the canal’s operation. Climate change, mainly caused by the combustion and extraction of fossil fuels, is making droughts more frequent and severe.

The disruption to global shipping is compounded by the dramatic reduction of shipping through the Suez Canal caused by missile and drone attacks on ships in the Red Sea. About 15% of oceangoing trade in and out of the U.S. goes through the Panama Canal, which relies on a system of locks that releases 50 million gallons of water into the ocean with each ship that traverses the canal and falling levels in the canal’s reservoir mean just 24 ships can pass per day, instead of the usual 36. (Wall Street Journal $, CBS, Trade Winds News $, AA.com; Climate Signals background: Drought)