Written Paper

Climate change in Latin America: impacts, adaptation and vulnerability  [2001]

M. Campos L.J. Mata

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This paper discusses the possible implications of climate change in Latin America. The paper focuses on a number of variables that will be affected by climate change, including, water resources, the El Nino, ecosystems, human health, agriculture and overall vulnerability.The paper makes the following main points:complex climatic patterns intermingled with land-use and land-cover change, make it difficult to identify common patterns of vulnerability to climate change in the regionthe cryosphere which is composed of glaciers in the high Andes and three major ice areas in southern South America, may be severely affected by global warmingdeforestation in the Amazon Basin is likely to reduce precipitation because of a decrease in evapotranspiration, leading to important runoff losses in areas within and beyond the Amazon basinsome studies based on model experiments suggest that under climate change the hydrological cycle will be more intense, with changes in the distribution of extreme heavy rainfall, wet spells, and dry spellsmore El Niño-like mean conditions will be experiencedsome adverse impacts on species that can be related to regional changes in climate have already been observedsubsistence farming could be severely threatened in some parts of Latin America, such as northeastern Brazilit is likely that increases in temperature will reduce crop yields in the region by shortening the crop cycleon longer time scales, El Niño and La Niña cause changes in dis
ease vector populations and the incidence of water-borne diseases in Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, and Venezuelathe adaptive capacity of socioeconomic systems in Latin America is very low, particularly with respect to extreme climate events, and vulnerability is high.[adapted from author]