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Partnerships for enhanced engagement in research (PEER) SCIENCE
Cycle 2 (2012 Deadline)

Ecosystem response to climate change in the mountain wetlands

PI:  Juan Castaño (Universidad Tecnológica de Pereira)
U.S. Partner: Jay Martin (The Ohio State University)
Project Dates: August 2013 to July 2015
 
Since 2008, Colombia has experienced three extreme climate events that have resulted in droughts and flooding during which more than 400 human lives were lost. During these events, 15 percent of the country was inundated and more than $6 billion in economic losses were sustained. While such national and international impacts of climate change are frequently noted and predicted by large-scale models, the local communities that suffer greatly from these disasters and are ultimately responsible for human welfare lack tools to predict and respond to changes in climate. To better prepare local communities to predict climate impacts and develop responses, this project will develop an early alert system to forecast changes in the ecosystem services of water regulation and biodiversity in the Quebrada Dali watershed. This upstream watershed, located in the central Andes of Colombia, affects agricultural and urban downstream areas that have already realized climate impacts and can greatly benefit from tools to predict further impacts and plan proper responses to climate changes.
The long-term goal is to develop a sustainable local ecosystem study site to monitor and model short- and long-term effects of climate change on the ecosystem services provided by Quebrada Dali watershed. The early warning system to be built will be based on permanent monitoring and adaptive modeling of the effect of climate change on the ecosystem services of water regulation in a watershed in the central Andes and its influence on water supply systems. A critical need for such a system at a local level is evidenced by the fact that many of the prediction models used to determine the effects of climate change on environmental services and society are based on global scale climate data, but they omit biophysical and social influences that determine local responses. As one of the most vulnerable countries to impacts of climate change, Colombia is an excellent location to examine human adaptation to impacts such as severe floods and drought.
Summary of Recent Activities
Principal investigator Juan Castaño has assembled a multidisciplinary research team, including PhD student Marcela Uribe, hydrologist Jhony Galvis, and GIS technician Santiago Restrepo, as well as several others funded from other sources. During the initial months of the project, the team has presented and planned some project activities to partner institutions CARDER (Corporación Autónoma Regional de Risaralda) and the local water company, Aguas y Aguas de Pereira.
 

  ColombiaPicture 1 Lisbran, located within the Quebrada Dali Watershed, is where the instrumentation will be located. (Photo courtesy Dr. Castano).

  ColombiaPicture 2 The research team takes a break from its fieldwork (Photo courtesy Dr. Castano).
It is expected that the PI will be making an initial visit to U.S. partner Jay Martin at Ohio State University from March 20 to April 20, 2014. during which he will be trained in hydrology and ecological modeling. A second visit, featuring Ms. Uribe, is expected during the summer. Two workshops are planned at the project field site at the Quebrada Dali Watershed in Lisbran. One workshop will be for those public and private institutions likely to benefit from data coming from the project. The other workshop is for groups such as ecological school groups and Scouts that can take advantage of study results as well as the study site infrastructure.
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