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|w 34 CNRS Networks cnrs I international magazine Climate A Franco-Argentinian joint unit focused on climate research in and around South America was recently renewed for another four years. A Focus on South American Climate BY Eddy Delcher Launched in 2010, the Buenos Aires-based international joint unit (UMI) IFAECI,1 dedicated to climate research in the Southern Hemisphere, has just been renewed for four years. It associates CNRS with the National Council of Scientific and Technology Research of Argentina (CONICET), and the University of Buenos Aires (UBA). “We had already been collaborating for 20 years, so the creation of this UMI was a logical next step,” says Carolina Vera, who heads the joint unit. This UMI has a wide spectrum of research areas including physical atmospheric processes, ocean and atmosphere observation, and mathematical modeling. It aims to better understand, simulate, and predict climate variability and change in South America and its surrounding oceans. “One of our main objectives is to improve the prediction of severe weather events, which can cause heavy storms within minutes and threaten the region’s socioeconomic activities,” she explains. “There is also a strong focus on the Southern Atlantic ocean. We are looking at its biogeochemical processes and currents, as well as their effect on living organisms like phytoplankton, or even on fisheries,” she adds. In only four years of existence, the UMI has published more than 250 articles and has led 97 internationally-funded projects. It has been home to 47 permanent researchers and 76 PhD students. France is well represented on site: in addition to a permanent CNRS researcher and a postdoc, the UMI has collaborated with 24 French researchers and welcomed 19 short-term visitors since its creation. Furthermore, two PhD candidates and two French MA graduates completed their theses at the IFAECI. Key studies at the UMI include the first measurements of suspended and bottom sediments in the Rio de la Plata estuary, using the Laser Particle Size Analyzer. This enabled researchers to map the sediments’ distribution and elucidate the mechanisms that govern their movement. Another project looked at how changes in land use affect the South American climate, and determined that land surface properties could regulate it at the regional level. “In the next four years, we aim to expand the social dimension of our research and help develop strategies to lessen the impact of climate change on human populations,” explains Vera. “We will also try to promote a more sustainable use of natural resources,” she adds. “Another cross-cutting measure will be to better exploit the results of remotesensing technology, as at the moment, very little of the data collected by satellites is used. This in turn should help us keep a close watch on a number of phenomena such as changes in the vegetation, the ocean, or the weather systems,” she concludes. 01. Institut franco-argentin d'études sur le climat et ses impacts. Contact information: IFAEC I, Buenos Aires. Carolina Vera > carolina@cima.fcen.uba.ar 01 IFAEC I researchers study the deep convection systems associated to extreme rainfall to understand their origin. 02 Dust transport over Rio Gallegos. Wind fields move from West (left, Patagonia) to East (right, Atlantic Ocean). 03 Glacier evolution in the Andes is closely monitored to measure the impact of climate change. © photos: UMI-IFAECI/NASA 01 02 03


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