Seminar participants included Dr. Werry Darta Taifur, the rector of Andalas University, as well as the graduate school director, a USAID representative, Dr. Armi Susandi (ITB), and the PEER Research Team.
Climate change has results in significant impacts on environment, water availability, and safety. Millions of people are affected by drought and floods every year in many part of the world, with widespread impact on. Specifically in West Sumatra, the impact of climate change includes sea level rise along the coast that has affected the livelihood of small scale fisheries, as well as the changed rainy season that has influenced the cropping pattern, decreased land productivity, and even affected the stability of the water supply for three electric power plants.
Given the importance of these impacts for Indonesia, it would be useful to upgrade the capacity of Andalas University faculty and research staff members to understand the linkages among the natural systems involved in order to create better solutions and recommendations for local government or community action. One important element in understanding these linkages includes exploring climate variability over a longer period of time and its connection with the characteristics of ecology, environments, and human activities over that time period.
The advanced techniques and technologies for tree-ring analysis developed by experts at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observation (LDEO) of Columbia University seem appropriate for application in West Sumatra province.
In this regard, the overall goal of this proposed project is to develop a sustainable and adaptive natural resources management system in West Sumatra province through cooperation between Columbia University and Andalas University integrating natural and social sciences approaches. Activities to achieve this goal are: (1) joint research between Andalas staff and LDEO experts on reconstructing climate variability in West Sumatra through tree-ring analysis, (2) support for two PhD students and four M.Sc. students on climate change, watershed management, water supply studies, and agriculture system studies, (3) development of the tree-ring research laboratory at Andalas, (4) organization of seminars and conferences for disseminating the results of the studies, (5) provision of training for Andalas staff, research students, and laboratory technicians, and (6) organization of a workshop for teaching module development.
Summary of Recent Activities
Dr. Febriamansyah and eight faculty and graduate students from Andalas University attended a dendrochronology training course at Kasetsart University in Bangkok February 4-8, 2013.The training course was designed as an overview of tree-ring research and its applications to climate change scenarios in the tropics. The goal was to ensure that by the end of the course, participants would be able to construct tree ring chronologies independently and relate their fluctuations to relevant environmental factors, especially those pertaining to climate. After the group returned home, they began trying out some new equipment purchased as part of their PEER Science project. They used the tree-ring borer to collect samples from trees at their study sites and then processed the samples for further analysis. Two research assistants, Yusmarni and Latifah Hanum, are responsible for the daily activities in this lab, and two MSc students supported on this project have assisted them with sample preparation. Beyond working in the lab, this group has been busy with fieldwork to study climate change impacts mainly in two villages, Simawang and Saning Bakar. Focus group discussions and field observations are being used to form preliminary hypotheses about changes in livelihoods activities in the two areas. PhD student Armansyah and MSc student Yumama will be researching aspects identified in this preliminary study. In addition, another PhD student has been selected recently to receive support under this grant. Ms. Farida’s research will focus on water resources management in the Singkarak Lake basin.
The PEER research team on their training
trip to Kasetsart University in Bangkok.
The PEER team preparing tree ring samples.
Besides their ongoing research efforts, Dr. Febriamansyah and his team have several training activities planned for the coming months. On April 23, 2013, they will conduct a one-day workshop on climate change and natural resource management to present their preliminary findings to an audience of faculty, students, and local stakeholders. The PhD and MSc students will also be presenting their research plans. In June 2013, Dr. Febriamansyah plans to attend an advanced training course in Greece on analytical methods for studying climate change impacts in subtropical and tropical zones. In late summer, two more MSc students at Andalas University will be selected to receive grants to support their thesis work, and in September Dr. Febriamansyah may visit his U.S. partner Dr. Brendan Buckley at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in New York.