Posts Tagged "Chile"

Central Chile’s Valleys Irrigated by Glacial Waters

Posted by on Feb 4, 2016 in All Posts, Featured Posts, News, Policy and Economics | 0 comments

Central Chile’s Valleys Irrigated by Glacial Waters

Spread the News:ShareGlaciers are an important factor for the success of agriculture in valleys in Chile. According to a recent study in the International Journal of Water Resources Management, the presence of glaciers at high elevation is one of the distinguishing factors that led to different degrees of agricultural development through irrigation among four valleys in Chile.  More glaciers were present in the higher peaks of the Andes, which are located to the east of the valleys they studied. Author Peter Frederiksen documented the expansion of irrigation and changing land-use patterns in the valleys through in-person and archival research between 2000 and 2014. The study looked at the Petorca, La Ligua, Putaendo, and Aconcagua valleys of Central Chile, which is a major fruit-growing region. The southernmost valley, the Aconcagua Valley, had the greatest water resources, measured in streamflow, while the northern valleys had less. The difference was correlated with altitude, which allows for the presence of glaciers, and a larger catchment area, Frederiksen writes. More water meant greater development of new fruit orchards, since irrigation was aided by the availability of surface water. While irrigation and fruit plantations expanded in all four valleys during the 14 years, there were differences in the amount of irrigation and the patterns of water use and allocation, with Aconcagua Valley having the most expansion of agriculture. In addition to studying changes in patterns of natural resource availability and agricultural development, Frederiksen shows that who controls water and land resources has changed with globalization. He found, through interviews with local residents and stakeholders, that large companies and wealthy individuals are the main developers of new irrigation. The pressure of new irrigation increases the demand on water resources, and Frederiksen documents how development plans for fruit export led by wealthy and powerful influences outmatched water management groups that had self-organized. Looking to the future, Frederiksen identified two trends that will impact irrigation development: climate change and the continued expansion of water resource development. Increased heat in the Andes will melt glaciers, which have already been retreating over the 20th Century. While snowpack is the main contributor to streamflow, glaciers become more important to water supply during dry years, such as La Nina years, when precipitation is usually low. Glacier meltwater thereby reduces the year-to-year fluctuations in water supply. The government plans to meet the growing needs of fruit irrigation with future dams, improvements in irrigation including canals and use of drip irrigation, and harvesting of groundwater. But if glaciers melt and precipitation decreases, these steps might not be enough. Frederiksen writes, “The two opposite tendencies – the policy and plans for continued irrigation development, and climate change – define uncertain futures.” Frederiksen’s study is motivated by the need for “wise, intelligent, and informed strategies” for bringing together water institutions and agents with the goal of protecting water resources, in the face of challenges including climate change, globalization, and development of water resources in more parts of the world. The study puts forward a model for understanding water resource development that is useful, Frederiksen writes, in overcoming confusion and barriers to implementation in water resource management.   Spread the...

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A Glacier-covered Volcano in Chile: Will It Erupt Soon?

Posted by on Feb 2, 2016 in All Posts, Featured Posts, News, Science, Uncategorized | 0 comments

A Glacier-covered Volcano in Chile: Will It Erupt Soon?

Spread the News:Share Several recent events suggest that a set of glacier-covered volcanoes in the southern Chilean region of Bío-Bío, which have been showing increasing activity since December, may be likely to erupt.  The three mountains, known as the Nevados de Chillán, reach over 3200 meters in elevation, and have a set of glaciers totaling over 2 square kilometers in area on their summits. They have a long record of eruptions, with historical documentation from the 17th century. Radiocarbon evidence records eruptions that took place about 8000 years ago.   The Nevados de Chillán complex, which averaged about one eruption a decade during the 19th and 20th centuries, had been relatively quiescent since an eruption in 2003. Sticking roughly to that schedule, the complex began to show signs of returning to activity with an earthquake in February 2015 which registered 3.2 on the Richter scale. The Chilean National Geology and Mining Service (SERNAGEOMIN) maintained the volcano warning at the lowest level, green, until 31 December, when it issued a yellow warning, signaling an intermediate level of danger. This shift was prompted by the appearance of a new gas vent on 8 December and by a series of over 2000 small seismic events, all under 2.0 on the Richter scale, throughout the month,  which indicated the fracturing of solid rock and the upward movement of magma beneath the surface. This activity has picked up in January, with the opening of a second new vent on 8 January, accompanied by a 2.9 earthquake and a cloud of ash. SERNAGEOMIN and the National Office of Emergencies (ONEMI) installed two webcams near this vent on 27 January. Providing these cameras with material to record, new clouds of ash appeared on 29 January. On 30 January, a crater, about 25-30 meters in diameter, appeared near the other new vents, with gasses, ashes and occasional blocks of cooled lava emerging from it. Temperatures at the summit were about 125º C, which was consistent with ongoing hydrothermal activity but did not suggest that magma, typically closer to 1000 º C in temperature, was approaching the surface.  Taken as a whole, these new activities led ONEMI to create a 2-km zone around the new craters from which people are excluded.  The local sense of concern was increased by the wide availability of images from the new cameras and from an impressive thunderstorm on 31 January, as shown below: @biobio @RoloHahn tormenta eléctrica en la precordillera de chillan pic.twitter.com/u8DXZiSq7I — orlando bustamante (@treguil) February 1, 2016 Dave McGarvie, a volcanologist with considerable experience in ice-covered volcanoes, has been working around Chillán since 2001. In his blog, he offers this overview of the situation: What makes me think that this unrest is likely to lead to an eruption? Well there are two main reasons.   Firstly, there’s clearly been a new heat source introduced into the plumbing system beneath the volcano, and this had drilled a new pathway to the surface leading to bursts of heat escaping through a new vent. This heat source is almost certainly due to magma rising up in the plumbing system. And at the moment there’s a ‘vent-cleaning’ phase in place, with bursts of heat interacting with water contained within the cone (Hydrothermal). There are probably magmatic gases involved as well. These energetic outbursts are cleaning out material in the developing conduit, and possibly also pulverizing (fragmenting) material being blown out.   Secondly, this new vent has developed on the youngest cone at this volcanic complex, which has developed through a long series of eruptions, punctuated by time gaps of a few years to decades. McGarvie’s assessment is that an eruption in the near...

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Roundup: South American Glacial Research Efforts

Posted by on Jan 4, 2016 in All Posts, Featured Posts, Roundup | 0 comments

Roundup: South American Glacial Research Efforts

Spread the News:ShareGlacial and Social Model of Chilean Irrigation “The model showed how external influences (globalization, climate, mountains) and complex adaptive systems (water conflicts, institutions and markets) influenced the evolution of irrigation development (the extension and emergence of novel properties) towards constructive (planned irrigation development) and destructive (climate change) futures… The model showed how external influences (globalization, climate, mountains) and complex adaptive systems (water conflicts, institutions and markets) influenced the evolution of irrigation development (the extension and emergence of novel properties) towards constructive (planned irrigation development) and destructive (climate change) futures.” Read more about the story here.   Managing Water Resources in Peru’s Glacial Catchments “Water resources in high mountains play a fundamental role for societies and ecosystems both locally and downstream…Our integrative review of water resource change and comparative discharge analysis of two gauging stations in the Santa and Vilcanota River catchments show that the future provision of water resources is a concern to regional societies and must be factored more carefully into water management policies.” Read more about the story here.   French Lead International Collaboration in Andes “The IRD [French Institut de Recherche pour le Développement] funded the international GREAT ICE (Glacier and Water Resources in the Tropical Andes: Indicators of Changes in the Environment) program in 2011 to strengthen glaciological studies in the tropical Andes; promote collaborative projects between Andean institutions in glaciology, climatology, and hydrology; and develop education and student training programs with local universities.” Read more about the story here. Spread the...

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A Soccer Team’s Fight to Protect Chile’s Glaciers

Posted by on Jun 18, 2015 in All Posts, Art/Culture, Featured Posts, Policy and Economics | 0 comments

A Soccer Team’s Fight to Protect Chile’s Glaciers

Spread the News:Share“QUE GANEN LOS GLACIARES,” or “VICTORY TO THE GLACIERS” is not a slogan you’d expect to see associated with South America’s Copa America, which kicked off last Thursday in Santiago, Chile. As Chilean fútbol fervor builds, Greenpeace Chile has launched its own soccer campaign in support of its Glacier Republic. In March 2014, Greenpeace declared the Republic an independent, sovereign state with its own declaration of independence, embassies abroad, and approximately 150,000 “official citizens.” Covering roughly 23,000 square kilometers of the Andes and including over 80% of South America’s glacial area, the new country formed through a loophole in the Chilean legal system; the Chilean constitution does not specifically recognize the glaciers as part of the nation’s sovereignty and the ownership of the glaciers is thus undefined. Furthermore, despite the critical importance of glaciers as a source for freshwater, they are not mentioned in the Chilean Water Code. Now, with Chile’s attention focused on the Copa America, the Greenpeace movement continues. “La selección Glaciar” is the Republic’s national team affiliated with the Confederation of Independent Football Associations (ConIFA). ConIFA is a global nonprofit organization and football federation that supports all teams outside of FIFA including micro-nations and unrecognized states. The Greenpeace Glacier team “competes” in metaphorical matches every Wednesday during meetings of Chile’s Environmental Commission of the Deputy Chamber. Since the first meeting last week, policymakers have been debating the country’s glacier laws: to protect some of Chile’s glaciers, as the existing proposal offers, or to designate all of the country’s glaciers as untouchable, as the Glacier Republic demands. Matías Asún, director of Greenpeace Chile, stated: “On this occasion, we liken our work to a soccer game and invite all people to side with us and pressure the deputies to vote in favor of the glacier laws that Greenpeace put forth.” Greenpeace Chile encourages supporters to “become a fan” of their “team” and “demand that the deputies play clean with the glaciers.” They list government officials who “play” (i.e. vote) against the glaciers, those who play for the glaciers, and those who are still undecided. The first “game” took place last Wednesday, as the Commission met with the intention of voting on amendments to the existing glacier law proposal. Meanwhile, Greenpeace supporters positioned themselves in Plaza Italia, a focal point for celebration, demonstration, and protest in Santiago. Conversation was heated as Deputy Fernando Meza, the president of the Commission, accused Greenpeace of ecoterrorism. Greenpeace called a “foul” to this claim, and Asún argued that the Commission had dramatically exaggerated the reality of Greenpeace activity. The meeting “ended in a draw,” the vote was postponed, and Meza requested the intervention of Chile’s General Water Department. The second “game” took place yesterday on Wednesday, July 17. Supporters of the Glacier team gathered with drums, chants, and flags at the National Congress in Valparaíso, and Greenpeace Chile actively tweeted throughout the rally. Policymakers voted in favor of “the protection of the glaciers and their environment” but the definitions remain open-ended. “We have started the vote,” Asún told GlacierHub yesterday. “Beyond that, there is not much to comment.” The “games” will continue in two weeks time when the Commission meets for its third match. As the law is written today, Chile’s glaciers are very vulnerable to mining activity in the region. Codelco’s Andina 244 expansion project (copper) and Barrick Gold’s Pascua Lama open-pit project (gold, silver, copper) are two major mining initiatives criticized for their negative impact on Chile’s glaciers. Andina 244 is closely situated to Santiago, and the glaciers nearby supply freshwater to Chile’s most populated region. Since establishing the Republic, Greenpeace has pushed the Chilean government to enact legislation that fully protects its glaciers via a “five-star glacier law...

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Volcanic Eruption Leaves Dogs Stranded and Hungry

Posted by on May 7, 2015 in All Posts, Communities, Featured Posts, News | 0 comments

Volcanic Eruption Leaves Dogs Stranded and Hungry

Spread the News:ShareAs communities pick themselves up from a series of volcanic eruptions in southern Chile, stories of heartbreak and happy reunions emerge. Last week, glacier-covered Calbuco erupted three times, displacing thousands of local residents and animals. The eruptions sent ash 20 kilometers into the air, according to the BBC,  and triggered a series of mudslides, which followed the melting of glaciers and recent rainfall in the region. Hundreds of families were forced to leave behind their pets and efforts have since been launched to rescue lost animal companions. Many zones were deemed unsafe and families were unable to return, but in some cases, there have been happy reunions. “Our government’s commitment is not only to be concerned, but to actively meet the needs [of communities], so that they can return and resume normal life as soon as possible,” Chile’s president Michele Bachelet said at a press event. Some families are gradually returning to their towns to inspect the damage and see if anything can be salvaged. Residents are documenting their experiences on video and social media. One such video, shot in Ensenada by Claudio Domingo Hernandez Matamala and viewed more than 200,000 times on Facebook, shows an emotional reunion between one abandoned pet and his worried owners. The dog sustained some minor burns on his back but was otherwise alive and well. Watch the reunion here: Calbuco: mirá el emotivo reencuentro de una mujer y su mascota http://t.co/Gho4rp9dp8 — La Gaceta Salta (@LaGacetaSalta) May 2, 2015 Other reports haven’t been as joyous. Feral dogs attacked and killed five sheep evacuated from exclusion zones surrounding the Calbuco volcano. The local government has taken measures to protect animals and keep them in trailers away from dangerous dogs, but many animals are still stranded near volcanic activity. Officials say they are uncertain about how much livestock has died from inhaling volcanic ash, though reports suggest some have died from contaminated water. But not all dogs have taken to attacking livestock in their hunger. One dog, now nicknamed “Ceniza” or “ash,” was adopted by the military after contributing to rescue efforts. Ceniza boosts the moral of troops as they work to rebuild communities. Perro callejero ayuda a militares en labores de rescate tras erupción del volcán Calbuco Chile http://t.co/L0XdZdfsuG pic.twitter.com/6oip8f1Agv — Mario (@marioriverosr) April 29, 2015 Meanwhile, locals are scrambling to clean out the ash that covers their towns. There are concerns that the ash will hurt crops and take a toll on residents’ livelihoods. “Now we have to think about the future,” Piedro Gonzáles, a resident of Ensenada, told Agence France-Presse. “We hope that in two months Ensenada can returnto normal. But it depends on whether the volcano can leave us alone.”     Spread the...

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