Proceedings of the 52nd Annual Meeting of the ISSS - 2008, Madison, Wisconsin, Proceedings of the 52nd Annual Meeting of the ISSS

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Backstage of the Global Climate Change: a system that everybody seems to think that it relates to someone else

Ricardo Andres Frias, Tariana Maia Gessaga, Jorge Oscar Rabassa


The city of Ushuaia, located at the southern end of the world, is already one of the many regions affected by the severe consequences caused by the Global Climate Change (GCC).
The physical evidence of GCC is shown by the gradual disappearance of the mountain glaciers that surround the city of Ushuaia, and also by others factors such as the increase of mean annual temperature in the area and a substantial decrease in winter rainfall, among others. These factors appear not to bring alert to society about the significant consequences that have derived from this situation in the short and long terms.
Our research group is trying to analyze the socio-economic consequences generated by the disappearance of glaciers around the city of Ushuaia, because they are the main source of drinking water, by using a systems approach.
Thus, we conceptualize the problem by identifying its elements, the description of the relationships between themselves and the distinction of the most relevant subsystems. We were able to establish the conceptual boundaries that distinguish our system from its environment, and the multiple relationships that operate between them.
In the other hand, we have found through these studies a series of emergent properties, which are the result of the analytical perspective we have undertaken; those emergent properties are as important as those ones that were revealed at the beginning of the investigation, including the contamination problem of the glacier water tributaries and their diminishing flow.
We will present in three stages the results that have been found so far: the first stage shows the background related to the effects of the GCC over the Patagonian glaciers, Argentina, and especially those ones that surround the city of Ushuaia, highlighting the projection about their volume; then, we will show the system behavior under analysis and its relationships with the environment, indicate the existing subsystems and describe the idea of horizon of potabilization, which will allow us to lay the foundations for further developement of a mathematic model, aiming to predict the moment when the population of Ushuaia will run out of water, at least during the summer months, by considering the current state of variables and relationships. At the end of these presentations, we will arrive at the conclusions achieved at this phase of the investigation.

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