Tackling the effects of climate change on the Andean glaciers

Host institution

Universidad de Concepción

Grant year


Project summary

The ice-capped Andes are one of the most vulnerable mountain environments on Earth. The retreat of glaciers is affecting water availability, and this will continue to get worse with increased warming. Dr Alfonso Fernandez, from Chile’s Universidad de Concepción, is leading a team to evaluate how SRM might change this picture, and with what other effects. Preliminary analysis suggests it could have a cooling effect along the Cordillera, and could reduce precipitation, especially in the south, but more study is needed. This project will provide important information for negotiators and policymakers in South America as they engage in discussions about the potential future deployment or rejection of SRM as an option to tackle climate change.

The team

dmf researcher alfonso fernandez profile
Universidad de Concepción
Alfonso Fernandez is a broadly-trained physical geographer based at the Universidad de Concepción in Chile, who studies hydroclimatic changes, mountain environments and glaciers, with a strong focus on the atmosphere-cryosphere-hydrosphere nexus. His current research involves quantifying glacier-mass balance in the Chilean Andes, studying changes in glacier sensitivity to climate change, and analysing the transformations occurring in mountain waterscapes. The aim of his work is to understand how these interactions affect mountain environments, and the application of this hydroclimatic knowledge to improve policy and decision making. His research tools encompass numerical modelling, analysis of instrumental hydroclimatic observations, remote sensing, geographical information systems (GIS), water geochemistry and paleoclimatic proxies. He considers himself an “unconfined” geoscientist as he is open to exploring new avenues of research.
Universidad de La Frontera
Francisco Manquehual-Cheuque is a research assistant and currently part of the Mountain and Water Resources Laboratory at the Universidad de la Frontera. His research interests include water and other natural resources and climate change. In his spare time he volunteers to monitor and evaluate birds, participate in laboratories related to forest ecology and land economy.
Universidad de La Frontera
Marcelo Somos-Valenzuela is an associate professor at the University of La Frontera in Chile. He has extensive experience of working on adaptation to climate change associated with mountain environments in diverse regions such as the Himalayas (Nepal), the Cordillera Blanca (Peru), continental US, and Patagonia (Chile). His areas of expertise include hydro-climatology, field observations and regional modelling, water management, social vulnerability, and climate change. He has collaborated on international projects funded by the UN, USAID, IDB, National Geographic, and the governments of Chile, Peru, and Nepal. He has a PhD in water resources from the University of Texas at Austin.

Photo credits

Banner: Santiago, Chile – Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission (2022) Credit: ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO.

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