Cycle 1 (2011 Deadline)
Impacts of climate change on tropical wetlands: tracking the evolution of two Andean lakes and a floodplain cienaga in Columbia
PI: Julio Eduardo Cañón Barriga, Universidad de Antioquia
US Partner: Francina Dominguez, University of Arizona
Project Dates: May 2012 - December 2014
Dr. Cañon during his presentation at the September 2012 workshop, photo courtesy of Dr. Cañon.
Communities in tropical regions along the Andean Cordillera in South America face an uncertain future, as mountain lakes and snow peaks exhibit receding trends and strong fluctuations associated with climatic drivers (i.e., climate change and El Niño) and local human activities. Such fluctuations are apparent in Colombia, where these changes will have direct impact on strategic ecosystems such as the Orinoco and Amazon basins and the highly populated Cauca and Magdalena River basins. Therefore, understanding how these water systems evolve in the near future is of critical importance for the communities that depend on them for their survival.
This project aims to develop long-term monitoring of the evolution of three natural water bodies: Colombia´s two main Andean lakes (Tota and Cocha) and the floodplain wetland of Ayapel. These natural reservoirs not only represent the accumulated effect of hydrological processes in their respective basins but also serve as examples of highly intervened environments from which several rural and urban communities derive their water resources and develop their economic activities. This project will gather data about the areas of interest by contacting local, national, and international agencies for technical reports, census information, hydrologic databases, and remote sensing imagery. The information gathered, as well as gauges installed at the lakes and visits to record geographical, geophysical, and socio-economic data, will be used to build models that describe the evolution of these bodies of water. The results of these studies will be available through technical and scientific papers as well as a website to be designed to offer easy access to geographically integrated and updated information useful for all interested parties locally and worldwide. The project should facilitate the development of improved models to determine the lake stage as a function of climate drivers and human uses to serve as a basis for future decision support for the communities involved.
Summary of Recent Activities
After making an open call for applicants, Dr. Cañón selected one doctoral student, three master’s students, and two undergraduates to be involved in the project. In addition, an environmental sciences student will be visiting from Germany on a short internship from January through March 2013, and an independent economics researcher will also be involved. In late October 2012, Dr. Cañón visited Cocha Lake to define possible sites for the hydrologic and lymnimetric stations and help further develop the thesis proposal of one of his master’s students, who is based at the local Universidad Mariana. In late November, a second visit was made to Ayapel to work out logistical details with the local organization that is building the structural support for the lymnimeter to be installed there. On December 18, Dr. Cañón visited Tota Lake, where he met with representatives of the local environmental corporation to present the project and coordinate logistical support for the planned installation of gauges in the lake area. Another meeting was held with a local environmental activist from the Montecito Foundation, who provided valuable information about the current situation in the lake basin. Although there have been some delays in setting up all of the sensors, it is now expected that all should be installed by the end of March 2013. During the first quarter of 2013, the students working on the project will also be taking classes, with the graduate students beginning their research projects as well.
The group installing a station in Ayapel to help
process digital information in real time via the Internet.
The group finishing their work on the digital station.
Article on project from Universidad de Antioquia newsletter Ingeniemos, August 2012
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