International Conference 'Deltas in times of Climate Change'

Activity: Talk or presentationTalk or presentation at a conference


Oral Presentation. Challenges and opportunities. The estuarine delta unit of Río de la Plata and Paraná River.

Abstract: In estuarine delta systems takes place the complex coexistence of natural environment and urban patterns, both influenced by climate changes and socio-economic events. The resulted landscape differs from one region to another depending on ecological, political, economical and technological frameworks.
This paper analyzes the system of the Paraná Delta and the Estuary of the Río de la Plata, through which drains the second major hydrographic basin of South America –“Cuenca del Plata”‐, which covers 3.1 million Km2 distributed in five countries (Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Uruguay and Paraguay). The complex system of delta + estuary constitutes a dynamic sedimentary geologic‐hydrologic unit located between the coasts of Argentina and Uruguay, draining to the Atlantic Ocean. It has a vital relevance not only for the region (a high populated area with more than 22 million inhabitants) but also for the Hydrology of the South American continent. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the Río de la Plata, the Amazon and the Orinoco carry into the Atlantic Ocean more than 30% of the renewable freshwater of the world. Nevertheless, Latin‐America is threatened by unequal distribution of water resources, stress on water quality, lack of infrastructures and strong climate changes. The studied case, the Río de la Plata, is considered one of the world’s top ten rivers at risk due to its lack of infrastructures and high hydrological alterations. In addition to these threats, the impact of non planned urban growing processes plays a relevant role for the future of the area considering political, economical, institutional and technological limitations that lead into an unsustainable use of the land.

Three issues will be presented in this paper: the ecological function of the estuarine system, the relationship between natural environment, urban patterns and socio‐economic dimension, and the possible future changes of the area due to urban growing processes and climate change. First, the ecological characteristics of the hydrologic system will be analyzed to understand the relevance of the area, the role that it plays for South American environment, the threats of the system and the need for management of natural resources. Second, the socio‐economic scenario will be presented, followed by the analysis of different urban patterns (in their historic evolution until the present times) and their relationship with natural landscape. Third, the possible future climate –natural‐ variations and –induced‐ changes will be described, taking into account the multi‐scaled climate drivers and their associated impacts on the environment.
The uncertainty nature of climate and socio‐economic changes challenges local governments to develop mitigation and adaptation strategies to minimize the negative consequences on the population and natural resources. Although adaptation addresses an action referred to a past event, it can be a future planning instrument as well, for pre-empting the changes thinking in advance about possible impacts and coherent policies. Finally, this paper will contribute with the presentation of a Latin-American case to the international urban debate, suggesting a set of planning adaptation strategies for a natural balance of the development of natural system and urban growing processes.
Period2010 → …
Event titleInternational Conference 'Deltas in times of Climate Change'
Event typeConference