Department of Environmental Sciences

Department of Environmental Sciences







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Seminar Abstracts
Environmental Sciences Seminar Abstract            

  CLIMATE CHANGE, GLACIER RETREAT AND WATER RESOURCES IN THE TROPICAL ANDES
Mathias Vuille
University at Albany, Suny

Mountain regions play a critical role for downstream water supply in the arid regions of the tropics, affecting millions of people. This is particularly true for vast stretches of the tropical Andes, which are relatively moist compared with the adjacent hyperarid coastal deserts to the west. Much of the snow falling in the Andes is stored as ice in mountain glaciers, before being gradually released over time. Glaciers therefore act as critical buffers against seasonal precipitation and provide water for domestic, agricultural or industrial use during periods when rainfall is absent.

The glacier extent in the tropical Andes, however, has decreased rapidly throughout the 20th century. This retreat, coupled with warmer temperatures and enhanced probabilities of drought occurrence, suggests the potential for a severe future water crisis in the region. In this presentation we will review the evidence for anthropogenic climate change in the region and consider the potential impacts on glacier mass balance over the 21st century based on projections derived from dynamical and statistical downscaling exercises. The talk will end with a discussion of possible adaptation and mitigation strategies


Last updated: 02/14/2012