EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

RAHU Project: Assessing water security and climate change adaptation strategies in the glaciated Vilcanota-Urubamba river basin

Pedro Rau1, Wouter Buytaert2, Fabian Drenkhan2, Waldo Lavado3, Juan Jimenez3, Nilton Montoya4, Vivien Bonnesoeur5, Gustavo Valdivia5, Walescka Cachay1, Andres Goyburo1, Eber Risco1, Jorge Abad1, Jon Mackay6, David Hannah6, Nicholas Barrand6, Martin Siegert2, Briggitte Macera4, Marcelo Bueno4, Carlos Baca4, and Cecilia Gianella5
Pedro Rau et al.
  • 1Water Research Center and Technology, Universidad de Ingenieria y Tecnologia, Lima, Peru
  • 2Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Imperial College London, United Kingdom
  • 3Servicio Nacional de Meteorología e Hidrología del Perú SENAMHI, Peru
  • 4Universidad Nacional de San Antonio Abad del Cusco UNSAAC, Cusco, Peru
  • 5Consortium for the Sustainable Development of the Andean Ecoregion CONDESAN, Peru
  • 6School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences. University of Birmingham, United Kingdom

The Peruvian Andes are a hotspot of vulnerabilities to impacts in water resources due to the propensity for water stress, the highly unpredictable weather, the sensitivity of glaciers, and the socio-economic vulnerability of its population. In this context, we selected the Vilcanota-Urubamba catchment in Southern Peru for addressing these challenges aiming at our objectives within a particular hydrological high-mountain context in the tropical Andes: a) Develop a fully-distributed, physically-based glacier surface energy balance model that allows for a realistic representation of glacier dynamics in glacier melt projections; b) Design and implement a glacio-hydrological monitoring and data collection approach to quantify non-glacial contributions to water resources and the impact of catchments interventions; c) Mapping of human water use at high spatiotemporal resolution and determining current and future levels of water (in)security; and d) Integrate last objectives in a glacier - water security assessment model and evaluate the tool's capacity to support locally embedded climate change adaptation strategies. 

The RAHU project intends to transform the scientific understanding of the impact of glacier shrinkage on water security and, at the same time, to connect to and inform policy practices in Peru. It follows a "source to tap" paradigm, in which is planned to deliver a comprehensive and fully integrated water resources vulnerability assessment framework for glacier-fed basins, comprising state-of-the-art glaciology, hydrology, water demand characterisation, and water security assessment. It includes glacio-hydrological and water resources monitoring campaigns, to complement existing monitoring efforts of our project partners and collaborators, and new remotely sensed data sets. Those campaigns will be implemented using the principles and tools of participatory monitoring and knowledge co-creation that our team has pioneered in the tropical Andes. The datasets produced by this approach, combined with existing monitoring implemented by our team and collaborators, will allow us to build an integrated water supply-demand-vulnerability assessment model for glacierized basins, and to use this to evaluate adaptation strategies at the local scale. 

This research is part of the multidisciplinary collaboration between British and Peruvian scientists (Newton Fund, Newton-Paulet).

How to cite: Rau, P., Buytaert, W., Drenkhan, F., Lavado, W., Jimenez, J., Montoya, N., Bonnesoeur, V., Valdivia, G., Cachay, W., Goyburo, A., Risco, E., Abad, J., Mackay, J., Hannah, D., Barrand, N., Siegert, M., Macera, B., Bueno, M., Baca, C., and Gianella, C.: RAHU Project: Assessing water security and climate change adaptation strategies in the glaciated Vilcanota-Urubamba river basin, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-11040,, 2020


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