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Partnerships for enhanced engagement in research (PEER) SCIENCE
Cycle 1 (2011 Deadline)

Building Peruvian capacity for monitoring and modeling the effects of climate change on the Coropuna Glacier and associated watersheds in Arequipa, Peru  

PI: Felio Carderon La Torre, (former PIs Karen Kraft and Julio F. Alegría), Asociacion Especializada para el Desarrollo Sostenible (AEDES)
US Partners:  Joerg Schaefer, Columbia University, and Gordon Bromley, University of Maine
Project Dates: June 2012 - January 2015

Project Overview

Peru is especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change due to the dependence of 70 percent of its population on glaciers for dry season water; however, Peru lacks an integral vision that builds climate change resilience by linking investigation, local knowledge, and decision-making. In this project, AEDES is partnering with the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University with the goal of building Peru´s capacity for monitoring and modeling local climate change in its Pacific Basin. The objectives of this capacity building project are to (1) improve data collection and analysis through practical training, (2) foster knowledge and data exchanges between national and international scientists, and (3) contribute to more robust modeling of Coropuna-vicinity climate change scenarios. This project will facilitate quality data collection by local researchers that contributes to local models that should help decision makers to better prepare themselves for changing climate conditions.
 
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Monitoring campaign of the southern front of Coropuna. Photo courtesy of Dr. Julio Alegria.
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 Installation of wooden stakes in the axis of the glacier. Photo courtesy of Dr. Julio Alegria.
To achieve their objectives, these researchers will carry out a series of joint data collection and field-based training during the summers of 2012 and 2013 and will maintain periodic monitoring of glacier mass at two sites and of hydrological data in two sub-basins. A highlight of the project will be the installation of a new weather and hydrology station installed on Coropuna, which should enhance data accuracy. The project will also provide support for the thesis research and training of two Peruvian master's degree students. One workshop will be organized on climate change, glaciers, and hydrology in the southern Andes, and another training workshop on climate change modeling will be conducted. Overall, it is expected that the US-based researchers involved will benefit from improved logistical support and an expanded field season, while the Peruvian investigators will gain from improved precision in data collection and analysis, knowledge of international research results, and enhanced ability to model climate change scenarios. The project should also provide the international research and policy community with vital information for understanding the sensitivity of tropical glaciers in Peru´s highly valued freshwater reservoirs to climate warming.
 
Summary of Recent Activities
 
During the last quarter of 2013, the AEDES research team conducted their annual field monitoring work in cooperation with the Glaciology Unit of the National Water Agency (Unidad de Glaciología de la Autoridad Nacional de Agua / UG-ANA). This time, the northern and southern flanks of Coropuna mountain were surveyed. In the southern flank, the fieldwork was done in Tuailqui Glacier. In the lower zone, ablation-stake network data were collected, and the outgoing stakes were replaced. In the upper zone of the glacier, field data from monitoring wells were collected and a new measure well was successfully installed. In the northern flank, at the Maukallaqta Glacier, a weather station will be built. The fieldwork provided an opportunity for UG-ANA specialists, AEDES technicians, and graduate students to exchange experience and knowledge. Currently two research studies are being carried out by students from the National Agrarian University (Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina – UNALM) at Lima with academic support from advisors and researchers from UNALM, the Complutense University of Madrid, and University of Maine who are subject experts. AEDES staff continues coordinating with their U.S. partner  Dr. Gordon Bromley of the University of Maine regarding plans for a planned international glacier researchers’ meeting. This event will bring together researchers and professionals who are working in glaciology, water resources, and climate change issues in the region. The meeting is tentatively scheduled for April 2014, coinciding with the installation of the Automatic Weather Station in the north flank of Coropuna. AEDES is also coordinating with UG-ANA on the installation of a station aimed at measuring snowmelt runoff at the Coropuna north flank outlet. This installation is expected to be implemented after the rainy season. In the coming months, the research team will also continue their outreach efforts to present the results of their Coropuna glacier research to the municipal authorities as well as local government and academic institutions. A no-cost extension has been authorized through January 2015 to allow additional time for completion of all project activities.

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AEDES technical team performing fieldwork in Tuailqui Glacier, south flank of Coropuna, December 2013. Photo courtesy of Dr. Julio Alegria
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Installing wooden stakes in Maukallaqta Glacier, north flank of Coropuna. Photo courtesy of Dr. Julio Alegria.

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