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Unlike in other countries, the effects of climate change in Chile have not yet been felt in a strong way, due to the influence of the ocean and the Humboldt current, which helps maintain lower temperatures.However, this has not prevented some effects from being produced (and will not prevent their being produced in the future).

Among these are:

Variation in precipitation: in the Great North region rains would increase during spring and summer, and in the Lesser North region this increase would occur during winter.  In the central zone (from the Valparaiso region to the Biobio region), there would be a considerable decrease in summer and fall precipitations.  Further south (from the Biobio region down) the rainfall index would decrease by as much as 50% in summer, but would remain almost unchanged in winter.  In the southern zone rains would decrease by approximately 25% in summer, but would remain the same in winter.  In the extreme south of the country there would be a moderate increase in precipitation (as much as 20%), which would remain constant throughout the year.

Glacial retreat: 90% of mountain range glaciers are shrinking considerably and in the Southern Ice Fields their retreat is recorded at as many as 30 meters per year.90% of the mountain range glaciers are decreasing considerably and in the Southern Ice Fields there are backward movements of even 30 meters per year.

Increase in sea level: the Pacific Ocean is increasing its level at the rate of 0,3cm per year.
– Changes in vegetation: studies based on tree growth rings have revealed that the vegetation distribution in the country’s southern zone is experiencing important changes.  For this reason, the distribution limits of some species are being displaced in order to assure more abundance in these zones.

Possible economical impact

The effects of climate change could impact various sectors that benefit the country’s economy.  Some of them are:

Fishing: the temperature increase in water could affect several commercially exploited species (causing their death or migration to other zones), such as the horse mackerel or the anchovy (a fundamental resource for the fish flour industry).  Also, climate change produces a variation in water salinity, causing existing fauna in some fiords or bays to migrate to other places.In addition, the increase in sea level (as many as 50 centimeters across the country) could force several docks and ports to change their location.

Agriculture: a temperature increase in the central region and a precipitation decrease will result in the transferring of some fruit cultivation activities to the southern regions.  The most affected zones will be Valparaíso, Bernardo O’Higgins and part of the region of Maule.  Also predicted is an increment in the dryness of the soil, hindering cultivation.

Adapting to the reality

In 1994 Chile ratified the Framework Convention of the United Nations on Climate Change and in 2002, the Kyoto Protocol in our country created the National Advisory Committee, which is formed by the Ministry of Exterior Relations, the Ministry of Agriculture, the National Commission on Energy and the Environment, the Science Academy, Meteorological Management of Chile, the National Commission on Scientific Investigation and Technology and the Hydrographic and Oceanographic Service of the Chilean Army.  In January 2006, this committee developed a national strategy that creates two principal axis: adapting to the impacts of climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
What’s more, the government is currently designing a public politics project that is oriented towards calming the impacts of this phenomenon and adapting to the realities that arise in relation to this problem.  This plan of action should address the realities of the country and encourage citizens to take a more participative role. 

The main measures being taken to counteract this phenomenon are:

– Increase irrigation capacity- Implement a policy to build new reservoirs.
– Develop biofuels (biodiesel, biogas and bioethanol).
– Promote the use of renewable energy sources (wind power, solar power and others).
– Promote the sustainable use of native forests.

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