• PI: Julio Eduardo Cañón Barriga, University of Antioquia
  • US Partner: Francina Dominguez, University of Arizona
  • Project Dates: May 2012 - July 2015

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., ENSO and climate change) 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 at developing a 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 gathered data about the studied areas 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, were the basis of models that describe the evolution of these wetlands. The results are 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 lakes stages as a function of climate and human uses to support future decisions by the communities involved.

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