Seminar Abstract

Francisco Munoz-Arriola

Tuesday, February 23, 2010
1:30-3:00

Hydroclimatology in México: history, challenges and opportunities

Throughout the history of México, the link between precipitation and surface hydrology has been part of the culture. The domestication of maize, the emergence and the decline of ancient cultures have been contingent on precipitation and drought. Some studies show that during the pre-Hispanic era important developments occurred providing insights about the cycles of precipitation, which sustained agricultural activities. Since colonization important changes in agricultural practices and population growth have altered the land use, challenging the sustainability of local ecosystems and human populations. In a country where agriculture is an important economic and cultural activity, the diversity of ecosystems and agrosystems, such as maize, is the highest in the North American subcontinent. However, this diversity contrasts with the highest deforestation rates in the region.  This talk will address the linkages, interdependencies and associations among agriculture, land use change and hydrologic systems from a basin to a regional scale. This study indicates the sensitivity of the land surface hydrology to land use changes under different climate conditions at the basin-scale; and how the surface hydrology interacts with the ecosystems in response to the North American Monsoon. Also, we show differences in drought predictability through different climate systems ranging from tropical rainforests in the South to deserts in the North, and from the steppe topography imposed by the Sierra Madre Occidental and Oriental to the Mexican Plateau and the coastal plains of Sonora. Finally, we describe the potential to manage water resources in Mexico by applying seasonal streamflow forecasts; and explore the challenges and opportunities in an area dominated by steppe topography, which is considered “megadiverse”.