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Partnerships for enhanced engagement in research (PEER)
Cycle 4 (2015 Deadline)

Satellite-based estimations of river discharge into the Cartagena Bay, Caribbean Colombia: Capacity building to mitigate sources of upstream runoff and associated risks of pollution

PI: Juan D. Restrepo (jdrestre@eafit.edu.co), Universidad EAFIT
U.S. Partner: Robert Brakenridge, University of Colorado
Project Dates: October 2015 - September 2018

Project Overview

4-70 Q4 2016 RestrepoJuan Restrepo (Project PI, center) during the post
Dr. Restrepo (center) during the poster session at AGU Fall 2016 with U.S. partners Albert Kettner (left), Associate Director of the Darmouth Flood Observatory-UC and Professor James Syvitski, Director of the CSDMS at University of Colorado

The city of Cartagena and its bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, have a limited capacity for water resource management, as evident in the degradation of coastal water quality. The greatest source of pollution to the bay and the adjacent Rosario Islands National Marine Park is the Dique Canal, which drains 7% of the country’s largest river, the Magdalena. During the last six decades, coastal fisheries and ecosystems (sea grasses and coral reefs, for example) have almost disappeared, and Cartagena Bay is considered one of the Caribbean Region´s “hot spots” of pollution due to human-induced stressors impacting water quality and ecosystems services. Colombia and its national public environmental institutions have not previously used near real-time satellite observing systems, but this PEER project is aimed at generating near real-time satellite river data for the region by deriving time series of streamflow and flooding extent data. The main goals include (1) estimating river discharge from the Dique Canal-Magdalena River system into Cartagena Bay by applying satellite-derived measurements; (2) relating the constructed river flow series since 1998 to identify climate variability and human impacts for the Magdalena River basin; (3) making satellite-based data available as GIS files so they can be incorporated into end-user decision-support systems; and (4) developing capacity building for implementing satellite-based river freshwater estimations in environmental decision making in Cartagena Bay.

Findings on Cartagena Bay’s pollution and its current inadequacy for recreational use and fish consumption are widely known within the scientific community. In addition, lack of reliable data on freshwater discharge flowing into the bay has limited detailed modeling and applied science on how river fluxes impact physical and chemical characteristics of coastal waters. The ambiguity of the problem means that mitigation strategies are lacking. This PEER project team aims to have a significant impact by generating a clearer and more precise foundation of knowledge on continental runoff fluxes and related marine pollution problems, which could thus inform the development of adaptive strategies at both the community and political level. The planned collaboration between the Dartmouth Flood Observatory at the University of Colorado and EAFIT University-Colombia, the latter with its current project in the region, BASIC-Cartagena (Basin Sea Interaction with Communities), will serve as a joint effort in strengthening the capacity of regional stakeholders to integrate geospatial and satellite products into development and decision making, with the final goal of improving environmental management for Cartagena Bay.


Summary of Recent Activities
Major activities since during January - March 2018, included:

(1) Analysis of time series of water level variability in the Magdalena River at the Puerto Berrío station near the Barbacoas lagoon (see attached file of water level and connectivity analysis). This analysis of daily fluctuation of water level, which has been obtained at the ground station, is being compared with satellite signal processing at four new sites in the Barbacoas lagoon and its stream connection with the Magdalena River.

(2) A workshop entitled “Applied tools to monitor water discharge and flooding for South American Rivers” focusing on disseminating water related information targeted to a select group of policymakers, decision makers, end users, and stakeholders from Colombia and Latin America, took place at EAFIT University on March 21-22, 2018. The meeting was a joint effort of the supported DFO-EAFIT PEER project and the project of the Dartmouth Flood Observatory and the GeoSUR Program, “Mapping of Flood Events and Estimation of River Flow for Latin America and the Caribbean”. By joining both projects efforts, and therefore the different water related data products, results and experiences, the convening workshop discussed with participants how to better understand and use the DFO platform, as well as ingest some of the DFO data directly into their local GIS and decision making analyses.
(4) A workshop entitled "Introduction to Satellite Based Discharge Stations and Flood Monitoring Systems" will take place at EAFIT University, Medellín, Colombia during March 21-22, 2018.  By joining both projects’ efforts, the convening workshop sought to discuss with participants how to better understand and use the DFO platform, as well as ingest some of the DFO data directly into their local GIS and decision making analyses. The goals of the workshop will be to: (1) Demonstrate what water related satellite derived data is available; (2) Seek experience feedback of the DFO and GeoSUR portals; (3) Present data applications in terms of water discharge variability, flood risk assessments, and river floodplain ecological connectivity; (4) Ingest some of the DFO data directly into participants local GIS; (5) Get feedback from end users on what additional water related data participants would need in applied science and policy making or what could be modified such that it fits the need better for the end user; (6) Share the results and data platforms of both projects with students and scientists working on water-related issues. 

Outreach and Collaboration: the team continue their relationship and interaction with the Magdalena River authority CORMAGDALENA. This institution was invited to the workshop held at EAFIT University and they are committed to continue collaboration and implementing the tool developed by this PEER project. Also ONGs like The Nature Conservancy Colombia TNC and community groups like fishermen cooperative are very interested in the PEER project results.

Potential Development Impacts: This PEER project, implementing satellite derived data to estimate water discharge and floods in the Magdalena River, is having great exposure and being used as a capacity building by some institutions, which are developing platforms to decision making in Colombia (e.g., Cormagdalena, TNC Colombia, association of fishermen in the Magdalena basin). In order to continue the socialization of this tool, we will participate in the coming workshop between the Magdalena fishermen association and decision makers and river authorities to be held in the Magdalena city port, Barrancabermeja, this coming month. In this workshop the team will work together with fishermen and explain the tool to assess floods and lagoon connectivity, important processes for fish migration and recruitment. Also, we expect to have feedback from them to learn what kind of additional information and data are relevant for maintaining fishing resources.

Challenges:the ongoing phase of the project is focused on developing an understanding of floodplain connectivity in the Magdalena River. Due to the loss of the pressure sensor, the DFO satellite signal data already processed in the project, the PEER team is  analyzing and comparing with the water level data obtained from the gauging station near the Barbacoas lagoon. This information will allow them to generate a correlation model between the areas of floodplain inundation versus water level. This model will allow them to reconstruct the history of fluvial connectivity in the Barbacoas laggon. The results obtained at this site will develop for the first time, a model applying satellite time series of stream flow and flood extent data to understand the hydrologic mechanisms of floodplain connectivity.

During the visit of DFO-U Colorado scientists to EAFIT University in March, the team discussed and developed a new conceptual framework of analysis (see attached file of water level and connectivity analysis). This approach was implemented by the student Oscar Sierra during his exchange visit at the Darmouth Flood Observatory at University of Colorado (April 5-21, 2018).

Future Plans: (1) Satellite signal analysis for the nine new sites in the Barbacoas lagoon and its stream connection with the Magdalena River. (2) Calibration between satellite signal and measured water level at ground gauging station at nearby location. (3) This PEER project, implementing satellite derived data to estimate water discharge and floods in the Magdalena River, is having great exposure and being used as a capacity building by some institutions, which are developing platforms to decision making in Colombia (e.g., Cormagdalena, TNC Colombia, association of fishermen in the Magdalena basin). In order to continue the socialization of this tool, we will participate in the coming workshop between the Magdalena fishermen association and decision makers + river authorities to be held in the Magdalena city port, Barrancabermeja, this coming month. In this workshop we will work together with fishermen and explain the tool to assess floods and lagoon connectivity, important processes for fish migration and recruitment. Also, we expect to have feedback from them to learn what kind of additional information and data are relevant for maintaining fishing resources. Magdalena River, is having great exposure and being used as a capacity building by some institutions, which are developing platforms to decision making in Colombia (e.g., Cormagdalena, TNC Colombia, association of fishermen in the Magdalena basin). In order to continue the socialization of this tool, we will participate in the coming workshop between the Magdalena fishermen association and decision makers + river authorities to be held in the Magdalena city port, Barrancabermeja, this coming month. In this workshop we will work together with fishermen and explain the tool to assess floods and lagoon connectivity, important processes for fish migration and recruitment. Also, we expect to have feedback from them to learn what kind of additional information and data are relevant for maintaining fishing resources.
   
4-70 Oct30 Nov3 field trip_Restrepo4-70 Oct30 Nov3 field trip_ _Measuring water discharge
October 30-November 3, 2017 field trip: team members in the boat and in the Barbacoas lagoon.  Measuring water discharge in the Magdalena River [Photos courtesy of Dr. Restrepo]

 

  

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