Press release in La Tercera.
A study carried out by researchers from several national universities determined that a series of infrastructure, such as ports and coves; natural systems such as wetlands; In addition to urban centers, they could be affected by an eventual rise in the level of the oceans and a greater frequency and intensity of storm surges, between now and half a century.
In mid-2019, information was released that raised an alarm about the impacts of climate change that are already being observed on the country’s coasts: the high erosion that some beaches in the country have, such as Hornitos in the Antofagasta Region. ; Algarrobo and Santo Domingo in Valparaíso; Lebu and Tirúa in that of Bíobío, and Pichilemu in the O’Higgins region.
The information was revealed by the study called “Determination of the impacts of climate change on the coasts of Chile”, commissioned by the Ministry of the Environment to a group of scientists from the universities of Valparaíso, Playa Ancha, Católica, Católica de Valparaíso and Católica de Maule, in addition to the UV COSTAR and CIGIDEN Research Centers.
This same study, on the subject of COP25 – the UN summit on climate change – has provided new data regarding the risk to which a series of infrastructure, natural systems and urban settlements are exposed, located on the coastal edge of the country, in the face of an eventual rise in sea level and the higher frequency and intensity of the storm surges that are forecast for the Chilean coasts for half a century, due to the increase in the average temperature of the earth.
According to one of its main researchers, academic Civil Oceanic Engineering of the University of Valparaíso, Patricio Winckler, for this study “an exposure inventory of human and natural systems located ten meters above sea level was drawn up, generated at based on information available in public services, field surveys and workshops held in Antofagasta, Valparaíso and Concepción ”.
In this way, it was possible to determine that there are 18,376 points that are in the risk zone.
“Thus, a total of 972,623 people living in the first 10 meters above sea level were identified, and that in this area there are 546 fishermen’s coves, 1,692 wetlands, 256 dune fields, 1,172 beaches, 156 places of interest for biodiversity 1,198 equipment structures such as schools, kindergartens, police checkpoints, among others; 171 maritime terminals, 475 elements of coastal infrastructure and 477 urban settlements, among other elements ”, Winckler lists.
In addition, with this information, 12 communes were identified that would be in a critical vulnerability state. These are: Antofagasta, Coquimbo, Viña del Mar, Valparaíso, Pichilemu, Talcahuano, Coronel, Arauco, Puerto Saavedra, Valdivia, Rapa Nui and the Juan Fernández Archipelago.
A total of 972,623 people inhabit coastal areas in the first 10 meters above sea level and would be at risk from rising ocean waters.
In fact, according to the conclusions of this study, the projections say that between 2026 and 2045 there will be more than 45 thousand people throughout the country, who will be in a flood risk zone.
The impact that changes in the behavior of the ocean will bring, due to global warming, would be mainly damaging in the structures of ports and fishing inlets.
As the researcher at the University of Valparaíso, Patricio Winckler, explains, in this study an unprecedented calculation was made: an attempt was made to determine by the middle of the century how many days a year these will stop operating due to oceanographic conditions. A very relevant issue if one considers that about 90% of Chile’s international trade is carried out through this route and with large vessels that need to operate with a relatively stable sea.
“And we were able to determine that not all Chilean ports are going to have a worsening of their operational conditions because it depends on their orientation regarding the waves. In this context, Valparaíso would benefit because the entire climate system is moving south. Then you will be more protected. On the other hand, the ports that are further south will be forced to take adaptation measures, such as improving the mooring systems of large ships ”, clarifies Winckler.
Regarding the situation that a large part of the more than 600 artisanal fishing coves that exist in the country will have to face between now and the middle of the century, Winckler explains that climate change will affect more than 85 thousand people who depend on artisanal fishing in Chili.