J3.6 Drought Components Change in Bolivia and Its Societal Impacts as a Response to Climate Change

Tuesday, 8 January 2019: 9:45 AM
North 228AB (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Azar Mohammad Abadi, Univ. of Nebraska−Lincoln, Lincoln, NE; and C. M. Rowe

Bolivia is a developing country in South America listed as one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change. Several basic reasons contribute to such vulnerability; the geographical location and the heterogeneous topography of much of the country create biodiverse regions with various responses to climate change. Second, the country is among the poorest in Latin America with the highest percentage of indigenous people. Finally, the physical features of the land are undergoing irreversible changes such extensive deforestation and conversion to croplands in the Amazonian lowlands and rapid glacier retreat in the Andean highlands. As one of the costliest consequences of climate change, drought has become a threat in recent years particularly in the drier region of the Altiplano over the Andes, where reservoirs are limited in number and water supplies has become scarce due to faster glacial melt. Recently, drought created a state of emergency in the country and affected thousands of people across the country by decimating crops, livestock, and decreasing the reservoirs’ levels. The current study investigates the spatiotemporal pattern of drought events and its changes in the context of climate change in Bolivia, so decision makers and health practitioners can develop preventive actions to mitigate potential health outcomes. Drought impacts are felt at regional scale and cannot be studied by coarse resolution global climate models (GCMs) as they cannot resolve regional scale features such as topography and local scale circulations. Therefore, we used the WRF regional climate model to dynamically downscale the output of three CMIP5 GCMs under three representative concentration pathways (RCPs) to account for a range of possible future climate outcomes. Our results demonstrate that the whole country will suffer from further warming and the already arid higher terrain will experience reduced precipitation, leading to accelerated retreat of the glaciers and making the region more vulnerable to drought and subsequent health consequences.
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