Analysis of the impact of changing snowpack extents on downstream water supply in the Peruvian Andes

Authors: Rachel Sullivan*, The University of North Carolina Wilmington, Narcisa Pricope, The University of North Carolina Wilmington
Topics: Geographic Information Science and Systems, Mountain Environments, Global Change
Keywords: Climate change, GIS, snowpack analysis, population vulnerability, mountain environments
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 1:20 PM / 3:00 PM
Room: Napoleon Foyer/Common St. Corridor, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: Download


Climate change is significantly affecting populations around the globe. Glaciers and snowpack are rapidly melting, leading to increases in the variability of river flows and affecting agriculture and food production as water availability becomes more unpredictable. Peru is a developing nation at the heart of these rising conflicts. Future projections show alarming scenarios for the country’s indigenous people and landscapes, with expected declines in snowpack volume, water availability, and food production coupled with increases in population and food demand. We analyzed changes in snowpack depth and extent of the Peruvian Andes from 2001 to 2017 to determine if there has been a significant decrease in snow cover using the MODIS snowpack product, MOD10A2, retrieved from the National Snow and Ice Data Center, while considering El Niño occurrence data from NOAA. We used the peak extent of snowpack and minimal cloud coverage from monsoon season (April). Additional data used includes population estimates for 2010, 2015, and 2020 projections from World Pop, as well as watershed delineations from WWF’s HydroBASINS product to determine which watersheds have been affected by changes in snowpack. Finally, we calculated the proportion of populations that have been affected by variations in water availability and where populations are most vulnerable. Our results show that snowpack depth and extent has significantly decreased between 2001 and 2017 with serious implications for water and food security regionally.

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