ARGENTINA: more CLIMATES more CHANGES

Argentina

 

Argentina is located in the thinnest portion of South America and this has a strong influence on its climate, moreover, its geographical shape (long and narrow) and the presence of the Andes mountain range, make it a country characterized by an important variety of climatic zones, from north to south and from east to west. In a country characterized by such variety of climate zones, the climatic changes of recent decades have clearly led to significant consequences in the different areas of the country. The UN report is very clear: the glaciers of Argentine Patagonia are suffering from the greatest change in the world about climate impact and are melting faster.

According to the document, submitted by the General Secretary Ban Ki Moon, towards the end of the century, the glaciers could disappear in some mountain regions. Despite being one of the world regions most affected by climate change, Latin America accounts for only 13% of global emissions of greenhouse gases. Among the Patagonian glaciers more extensive and more affected by these phenomenon are the Perito Moreno and the Upsala Glacier.

The Perito Moreno represents how our planet was in Quaternary era and for this reason UNESCO has declared it a World Heritage Site in 1981.

The Perito Moreno is the world's third largest reserve of fresh water, with an area of ​​257 sq km and 30 km in length. The withdrawal of the Perito Moreno is just the latest of environmental disasters in the Parque Nacional de los Glaciares, many of the smaller glaciers of the Andes mountain range have now passed the critical point. Their pelvis is so small that even if there were many cold weather and abundant precipitations the snow could not stop to recreate the glacier.

The effect of climate change is evident in most of the glaciers of the Andes, who have lost thickness and are greatly arrears.

In these regions, the reduction of glaciers leads to an increased dependence on snowfall for the rivers. The years with poor snowfall will produce the phenomenon of dry rivers more accentuated.

According to a study published in the journal Cryosphere, glaciers in the Andes have lost between 30 and 50% of its surface area since the early seventies. And their melting process, for now, is not likely to stop.

Melting waters from high mountain glaciers are fundamental to the region of cultivation of fruit trees and grapevine in the provinces of Mendoza and San Juan, northern Argentina. Due to climate changes that affect the mountain glaciers, we can expect that will decrease snowfall in the Andes and that there is a probable water crisis in these areas.

The wine sector in Argentina, mainly concentrated in the area of Mendoza, representing about 6% of world production and 5% of the production is for export. With an annual production of nearly 12 million hectoliters (data OIV, 2012), Argentina is the fifth largest producer of wine in the world. The scarcity or excess of water, in the key periods of viticulture, prejudice the production of wine for that year, with strong consequences for the economy of an entire country.

Climate changes going on these years are changing very much the characteristics of the planet. South America is affected very strongly for years, in fact in the southern hemisphere has been registered an increase of spontaneous forest fires, caused by the ozone hole and the greenhouse effect. In northern Patagonia, entire surfaces of woods and forests were set alight in the last years of dryness and since this has become an area of rapid residential growth, it has been a problem for real estate sellers and owners.

Besides the impact on flora and cultivations, climate change is also having an impact on some specimens of the animal kingdom that inhabit the coasts and seas Argentines. In particular, climate changes, which lead to a melting of the glaciers and the overfishing, are putting a strain on the survival of Magellan penguins. In Punta Tombo, Peninsula Valdes, there is the largest colony of Magellan penguins in the Americas. Here, every year, more than one million of specimens arrive to change the feathers, lay eggs and raise the puppies. The risk is that it may reduce the amount of fish which the penguins feed on, forcing the males to remain in the hunt for longer and longer and thus delaying the supply for females and puppies. An anomalous element in recent years, moreover, is that the surface of the Atlantic Ocean is warmer. This phenomenon implies that the penguins follow the fish fell deeper into the ocean to find cold water. The penguins, failing to reach the food, are likely aground because hungry following the warm currents. In recent years, moreover, the climate change has brought more abundant rain falls in some areas. This means that, in the coast of Patagonia, generally characterized by a very dry climate, the little penguins, wet by the excessive rains, die from prolonged exposure. In other areas, however, precipitation decreased significantly, leading to a problem of aridity. Affected significantly are the breeders of cattle, ovine and bovine, because the dry prevents the natural renewal of pasture and does not allow to the farmers to stockpile forage for periods of need, thus causing the death of many cattle with consequences for the economy of the country and the community of breeders. Argentina is one of the largest exporters of beef and mutton in the world, coming in 6th place, recording a significant domestic consumption. If on the one hand, climate change affect farming, on the other hand is breeding (especially bovine) to influence the climate.

According to FAO estimates, 18% of the emissions of greenhouse gases, in terms of carbon dioxide equivalent, derived from cattle ranches, are the second leading cause of climate change in the world.

Another factor related to the production of greenhouse gases, that affect the climate changes, is the extraction and the high use of natural gas from underground which takes place in Argentina. Argentina is a historically natural gas producer and, in recent times, have been discovered huge reserves of "shale gas" in Patagonia. Natural gas, a source of fossil energy, is seen as a much cleaner fuel of coal and oil and is used as an alternative to other fossil fuels. But this positive reputation is not entirely realistic, natural gas produces a large environmental and health impact, both during the extraction process in which the combustion phase. To extract natural gas from depths between 2.000 and 3.000 meters, using the technique of hydraulic fracturing (the fracking), a method that involves the application of huge pressure on the soil and that requires large amounts of water, sand and chemicals.

The risk of groundwater contamination is high, because 40% of the water injected into the ground during this process is lost through natural creeks of the earth. Clearly, this has implications on the health of the people that living in the surrounding areas of the extraction places, which use water from wells for drinking and irrigation. In addition, the combustion of natural gas during use generatesbgreenhouse gases (first of all carbon dioxide) that contribute to global warming.

Special attention is given today in Argentina to the renewable energy sector such as, for example, wind energy, biomass, geothermal, solar and hydroelectric. The diversity of terrain and weather conditions permits the exploitation of almost all sources of renewable energy.

The aim is to obtain at least 8% of the total energy of the country from renewable sources by 2016.

Climate changes are not even spare the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires, located in the subtropical zone to water risk. This is because it is on the edge of the Pampa, with a gentle slope and little possibility of evacuation of natural waters. The climate of Buenos Aires is temperate, with warm summers and cold winters. In recent years, have been great imbalances in the climate of the city, with strong and heavy rainfall causing flooding and widespread with damage to property and people, alternating with periods of drought and high temperatures.

What happened is part of the effects caused by the abnormal temperature rise of the South Atlantic Ocean and of the global warming that accelerating the phenomenon began in the '50s, with climate changes that have tropicalized the central area of Argentina, which was classically part of a temperate region.

© Copyright 2013 - Simone Nascetti photography. All rights reserved.

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