July 28 - August 9, 2013
2 Week Program: lecture and field work in Brazil
Worldwide, there is increasing concern about the short and long-term consequences of human activity in and near fluvial-coast-shelf regions. Increases in coastal populations and changes in land-use practices in coastal catchments and floodplains have led to rapid changes in sediment supplies and increases in nutrient, pollutant and pathogen loadings to coastal waters. These impacts pose serious risks to human health and the capacity of ecosystems to support products and services critical to human populations. These risks are increasing and are likely to be compounded by global climate change.
Although the Amazon River system (river-to-shelf) is not highly impacted by human activity, and the risks to populations posed by climate change and other human influences are minimal, the system does represent an extraordinary opportunity for the scientific community to gain insights and understanding of the complex interactions among freshwater outflows, significant sediment loading, a complex coastline, and an energetic coastal ocean out to the shelf break. The Amazon River fluvial-coast-shelf system represents a unique coastal region in many respects, including:
- The shear size of the system. The Amazon River freshwater outflow represents approximately 18% of the world’s total riverine discharge, carrying with it approximately 10% of the world’s fluvial sediment supply - approximately 1 billion metric tons of sediment annually. In combination, this produces unique sediment transport processes (e.g., fluid muds in the river delta) and physical oceanographic dynamics (e.g., estuary-like phenomena that extend onto the continental shelf and produce complex open-ocean dynamics).
- The system’s location near the equator. These regions of the world will likely respond in unique ways to climate change, in particular as compared to mid-latitude coastal regions.
Clearly, lessons learned in the Amazon River system can be extrapolated to fluvial-coast-shelf systems elsewhere in the world, including those occurring in human-altered environments and those that have remained - like the Amazon - largely pristine. Enhanced understanding of the Amazon system will also support local efforts to manage and preserve this vital natural resource for future generations.
The Pan American Advanced Studies Institute (PASI) entitled "Toward a Sustained Operational River-to-Shelf Observation & Prediction System for the Amazon"
is intended to produce the following outcomes:
- Inform U.S. participants of the unique physical oceanographic, hydrodynamic, sediment transport, and coastal sedimentation processes that influence the ecosystems characteristic of the Amazon fluvial-coast-shelf region.
- Build working relationships between the region's scientists and engineers and their U.S. counterparts, as well as among scientists working in various disciplines.
- Lay the groundwork for sustained scientific exchange among the faculty and students of the participating U.S. and Latin American universities and organizations.
We believe that a two-week intensive program that challenges a multi-national and multi-disciplinary group of senior faculty, scientists and graduate students with the task of envisioning a comprehensive, real-time observation and forecast system for this enormous and dynamic coastal region will produce a unique opportunity for the exchange of advanced scientific and engineering knowledge AND the stimulation of long-lasting partnerships in research and education.