Investigating Climate Change and Glacier Hydrology in the Shullcas River Watershed, Peru

Saturday, February 13, 2016
Cirilo Pablo Lagos, Instituto Geofisioc del Peru, Lima, Peru
In the city of Huancayo average drinking water is limited to a few hour a day, and the availability of irrigation water in the middle and lower Shullcas River wathershed, a glacierized mountainous region of the Central Peruvian Andes, is also limited. The hypothesized causes of the water shortage are the accelerated decline in the contribution of the Huaytapallana glacier to the Shullcas river flow due to global warming, and also the rapid increase in population. These conditions will worsen in the coming years by the irreversible process of glacier retreat. The objective of this project is to explore alternative management strategies to balance growing demands for water resources with adequate supply by storing rainwater and sustainably exploiting ground water, while further investigating the future behavior of the Shullcas River flow under changing climate conditions in Huaytapallana glacier neighborhood.

To this end, an assessment of the rate of change in ice volume in the Huaytapallana glacier, which feeds the Shullcas River, is being made. The contribution of glacier meltwater and groundwater to the pro-glacier hydrologic system will be estimated based on direct discharge measurements and using hydrochemical end-member mixing models on targeted sampling methods. Ensemble down-scaled climate forecasts will be generated for the Shullcas River Basin, focused on precipitation and temperature from present day through to 2050. A hydrologic forecast will be derived from modeling how the glacier volume change will affect the proglacial hydrology.