Climate Change, Energy & Environment

Chile is considered a natural lab for researchers in several fields related to Earth Sciences, including climate, volcanology, glaciology, seismology, and renewable energies, among others. Furthermore, Chile, a country particularly vulnerable to climate change, is currently facing what experts have dubbed a “mega drought,” the country’s worst lack of water resources ever documented, while also having to deal with record-breaking wildfires and other knock-on effects of extreme weather, including ever increasing maximum temperatures and flash flooding. It is home to 80% of South America’s glaciers, a significant source of water resources for its population of over 18 million, yet these ice masses are rapidly melting and retreating. 

In this context, the Santiago Center has striven to take a preponderant role in addressing climate change. We have been working with Columbia’s multidisciplinary team of experts from the Earth Institute’s Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO), the Center for Environment, Economy, and Society and others, to present keynote addresses in different forums, meet with local specialists, plan with authorities, and undertake actions to further understanding of how human activity is affecting the world’s climate systems, and what can be done to offset this global issue.

In addition to public events, we have seen increasing interest among Columbia scientists in collaborating with Chilean counterparts in research projects related to Earth Sciences. In fact, many Columbia researchers have been awarded funds by the President’s Global Innovation Fund (PGIF) to study topics such as volcanology, forest fires, and drought.

Specifically, 2019 activities promoted by the Santiago Center, included a May delegation aboard in the JOIDES Resolution ship, led by Climate scientist and isotope geochemist at Lamont-Doherty Earth ObservatoryGisela Winckler, to study core samples dating as far back as 10 million years; a visit of Columbia’s Upmanu Lall, to present a detailed analysis of water supply and distribution issues around the world; a presentation of Vasilis Fthenakis, one of the world’s foremost experts on solar energy, regarding future development for that industry; and a project on climate prediction led by Ángel Muñoz, Associate Research Scientist from IRI; among others initiatives. 

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August 25, 2017

Seminar on Waste-to-Energy Technologies

The rapid growth of waste materials generated by humanity and the ever-increasing scarcity of landfill space worldwide have resulted in a major environmental problem. Faced with this challenge, municipalities and companies are seeking alternative solutions to the age-old method of landfilling. The only proven alternative for the management of the post-recycling waste, that means the waste with no value in the market or recovery potential, is thermal treatment for the recovery of energy (waste-to-energy or WTE).

May 18, 2017

Climate Change: Impact in Chile´s Forests, Glaciers and Agriculture Sector

During the last few years, Chile has been hit by record-high temperatures and an ongoing drought. This combination, which has had a strong impact in the agriculture sector, was a key determinant behind the wave of wild fires that struck the Central-South of the country last January.

March 21, 2017

Promoting Women's Involvement in Clean Energies

Strengthening the participation of women in the clean energy revolution that Chile is experiencing, as well as promoting their inclusion in leadership positions within the sector’s companies, universities, government, and non-profit institutions, was the main objective of an extremely successful workshop organized by the Santiago Center in conjunction with the Chilean Renewable Energy Association (ACERA).

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