Climate change in Andes Mountains

Natural hazards - How does climate change affect the central Andes in Chile?

How is climate change affecting snow cover in the central Andes mountains in Chile?

The effects of global warming on the climate and environment are becoming more and more evident. Long periods of drought alternating with violent floods and storms and other unexpected weather phenomena are the order of the day.

The result is a long list of consequent natural hazards to which we are exposed and which need to be expertly and timely assessed and managed. There is no doubt that winter 2021 has been particularly dry. The Quinta Normal station of the Chilean Meteorological Directorate recorded a rainfall deficit of 67%, registering a total of 78 mm to date, of which 40 mm corresponds to the events of January. 

Although year-to-year variability is normal for the climate of central Chile since 2010 we have been facing a prolonged drought, with a decrease in snow cover in the mountain range, for the last 16 years, as shown in the timelapse below.

Chile mountains snowmelt

A lower accumulation and permanence of snow has a direct impact on our water availability. On the one hand, snow melting is the main contribution to river flows in spring. On the other hand, a lower accumulation implies a lower supply for glaciers, which can be considered as water reservoirs. This makes the need for detailed water and cryospheric studies increasingly essential.

In AFRY, tackling climate change is one of our priorities. Our experts are dedicated to studying the cryosphere through mapping, sampling, glacier and permafrost monitoring, surface flow measurements and climate change studies, offering leading-edge techniques and bold ideas within the field. In addition, we benefit from the extensive global network coupled with deep regional knowledge.

"Sustainability is one of the pillars at AFRY. We are convinced that a better understanding of the physical environment in which we interact will encourage the development of more efficient and sustainable projects. This will allow us to be prepared for the challenges triggered by climate change”, says Rodrigo Valdivia, Head of Natural hazards department in Latin America.

Natural hazards and climate change
Effects of climate change on snow cover in the mountains

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Rodrigo Valdivia

Head of Natural Hazards Department, Latin America
Downstream view of Goescheneralp Dam with glacier in background

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