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El Perú frente al cambio climático

Sonia González Molina
Jean-Joinville Vacher



Michel Laurent

Texte intégral

Peru facing Climate Change. Results of Franco-Peruvian research

1The diversity of landscapes that make the richness of Peru result from a variety of geological, climatic, and biological high-contrast features. From the desert coast to the Amazon rainforest; passing through the Andes peaks, life has adapted to the extreme conditions of these environments since millions of years ago. Nowadays, the fragile balances of these highly specialized ecosystems are being threatened by Climate Change, which affects the entire planet. Since Peru is located in the intertropical region of the world; it is particularly sensitive to Climate Change and should be prepared to address the impacts.

2Political decisions need to be based on reliable observations to deal with these new conditions. The role of Science is to provide an understanding on how the climate performs, ecosystems respond and the sensitivity to these changes, and to simulate the future in order to build correct responses to climate variability in the future.

3The following ten chapters introduce the main results of the most recent researches on Climate Change that is based on more than 40 years of Peruvian and French collaboration. The first chapter deals with the influence of the Andes on the Amazonian climate and biodiversity: cloud barrier that regulates rainfalls and creates a large number of ecological niches; for millions of years, the Andes have been the engine of the evolution of the Amazonian flora and fauna. The joint work that has been carried out by geologists, biologists and paleontologists to reconstruct past events and ecosystems are being compared to the work that paleo-climatologist are doing. They study past climates by complex Chemical analysis of Amazonian lakes sediments, ice cores and stalagmites from Andean caves. The past natural climate changes that they highlight (related to the orbital axis movement of the Earth, with intense/high volcanic activity, etc.) help as a reference to define which part of the current global climate change is related to human activity; that is the subject of Chapter 2.

4In fact, the current warming is undeniable and its impact is already being shown in the Amazon region; there the frequency of floods and extreme droughts has increased for decades and impacted ecosystems and the societies of this region (Chapter 3). To adapt to such rainfall patterns changes caused by river flow, it is essential to measure the Amazon basin patterns, in the long-term and in its entire scale. Thus, due to the hydrological stations network, the HYBAM observatory enables monitoring the evolution of water resources and the quality of water in the Amazon for over 10 years ago (Chapter 4). The sediments and dissolved elements carried by the rivers from the Andes throughout the Amazon River until its mouth in the Atlantic Ocean are a carbon storage compartment, a component of greenhouse gas CO2. The role of lakes and flooded forests in the carbon trapped in the sediments should be evaluated better, while extreme hydrological occurrences that cause increased sedimentation (Chapter 5) are multiplied.

5However, the impact of global climate warming is not always easy to detach from other direct impacts on ecosystems. So that, an increase in water temperature in the Amazon area, should modify in part the distribution of different species of fish; but this impact is even less important than the activities of fishing, gold panning and current deforestation, activities recognized as the most immediate threats to the Amazon fish biodiversity (Chapter 6).

6Regarding the Flora, adaptation to different environmental conditions and the large number of ecological niches throughout the Amazon basin, has resulted in one of the richest biodiversity on the planet. A survey of the distribution of different species of palm trees and the presence of species adapted to drier conditions in foothill areas reveals the capacity of such life to adapt to climate change, stressing however that this happened in thousands of years (Chapter 7).

7Indeed, the Amazon region is not the only place where the impact of climate change is being felt in Peru: the glaciers of the Andes Mountains decrease, a phenomenon that has been established as a symbol of global warming. These smaller tropical glaciers are subject to melting throughout the year. They are much more sensitive to variations in rainfall than the alpine glaciers, variations that reconstitute them. Therefore, many small glaciers around 5000 m. where lowland agriculture depends directly are under threat of extinction, for this reason it must be necessary to provide new strategies to deal with these new water condition (Chapter 8).

8This scientific field from east to west ends outside the borders of Peru, but in an area of primary influence for both, the economy and the prevention of natural disasters in the Pacific Ocean, where phenomena such as “El Niño” arise. Recent studies show that there are different types of “El Niño” phenomena: one developed in the Central Pacific and the other in the East Pacific. The way it originates and its impact on both, fisheries resources and along the coast, are subject of research which combines measures of the sea, satellite imagery, climate patterns/models that integrate relationship of atmospheres-oceans, etc. (Chapters 9 and 10).

9The complexity of this research matches the challenge that Science wants to face: to produce diagnosis and perspectives which enable a rational basis for public policy and encourage the emergence of Solutions and create a supportive environment for changing behaviors.

© IRD Éditions, 2014

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