Infrared Imaging and Modeling of Proglacial Stream Temperature in the Cordillera Blanca, Peru
Tuesday, 15 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
In the tropical Andes, glacial meltwater is an important water resource for downstream communities, especially during the dry season. Due to climate change, glacial retreat is accelerating and straining already limited water resources in the region. It is hypothesized that groundwater storage and discharge will play a critical role in sustaining future river flows. To improve our understanding of the hydrologic fluxes in proglacial valleys of the tropical Andes, we monitored a ~1.2 km reach of the Quilcayhuanca River, in the Cordillera Blanca, Peru, using a high resolution infrared (IR) camera and in-stream temperature sensors. We positioned the IR camera on the southern valley wall, 96 m above the valley floor, and collected >700 IR images at 10 minute intervals over 5 days. We deployed 40 temperature sensors along the stream at ~25 m intervals and 10 sensors at additional control points throughout the surrounding valley, recording temperature at 10 minute intervals. Groundwater temperature was recorded in 6 wells in the study area. The reach had diurnal temperature fluctuations from ~4 to 13°C, but did not exhibit large longitudinal temperature differences. Stream temperature profiles within the water column show stream water is well mixed, improving the ability of the IR camera to accurately observe the stream temperature at this research site. Temperature sensors in 4 reach tributaries recorded warmer temperatures than the main channel. The daily temperatures of one tributary fluctuated within the range of the groundwater temperature (~9 to 11°C), while another tributary exhibited a range of ~18°C. A weather station in the study area recorded climate data (air temperature, humidity, wind speed, solar radiation) at 10 minute intervals. We used this field data as input for a spatial and temporal energy balance model of the reach. Our model demonstrates the utility of IR imagery to monitor stream temperatures and improves our understanding of energy fluxes in this proglacial stream.