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Drought Propagation in the Water-Scarce Northeast of Brazil: Societal Response to Spatio-Temporal Dynamics of Water Storage

Event Type
Department of Geography & GIS
2049 Natural History Building
Mar 31, 2023   3:00 pm  
Dr. Antônio Meira, Colorado College
This event is free
Originating Calendar
Geography and Geographic Information Science

The northeastern region of Brazil, especially the state of Ceará, is characterized by a semi-arid climate and has been historically known to suffer from severe socio-economic impacts from droughts. Over the last century, governmental response has been to adopt “hard-path” infrastructural solutions through reservoir construction aiming to balance the supply-demand dynamics and mitigate hydrological and social effects during dry periods. Not only that, but water access control by oligarchies led to the widespread expansion of this reservoir network population, which built reservoirs independently,  based on their empirical knowledge of hydrology within that region. The Upper Jaguaribe basin (UJB), in the state of Ceará, Brazil, exemplifies the typical socio-hydrological dynamics of the Brazilian semi-arid region and has experienced an intense growth of its reservoir network over the last 100 years. This presentation explores the uncontrolled expansion of the reservoir network within the UJB,  through both a historical and socioeconomic perspective, while also presenting a modeling strategy that dynamically incorporates, over a 100 years (1920 and 2020) time span, the effect of increasing human intervention, as seen by the progression in dam construction over the years. Finally, our modeling strategy allows us to explore the unintended consequences of infrastructural development in the regions through the lenses of drought propagation in the system.

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