Articles | Volume 6
09 Jan 2006
09 Jan 2006

Precipitation dynamics and chemical properties in tropical mountain forests of Ecuador

R. Rollenbeck, P. Fabian, and J. Bendix

Abstract. Terrestrial ecosystems in southern Ecuador are strongly affected by interannual climate variations. This holds especially true for the episodic El Niño events, which cause above-normal precipitation in the coastal region of Ecuador and below normal values in the eastern provinces of the Amazon basin (Bendix, 1999). For the transitional zone between these two extremes, which consists mainly of the andean slopes and larger interandean basins the effect on interannual climate variability is not well known.

The PREDICT project monitors regional climate in the provinces of Loja and Zamora-Chinchipe (4° S/79° W), where a strong gradients of precipitation are observed. Between the eastern slopes of the Cordillera Real and the dry valley of Catamayo, which are only 70km apart, rain totals drop from over 4000 mm to only 300 mm per year. These two extremes represent the both sides of the Andean mountain chain and are completely covered by the study area, which is 120 km in diameter. Methods used are a combination of point measurements (climate stations) and remote sensing devices (weather radar, satellite imagery), which enable a high-resolution real-time observation of rain distribution and underlying processes. By this, ideal conditions are given to monitor a potential shift of the transition zone between below-average and above-average rainfall situated in this region, if another ENSO-anomaly occurs. Furthermore variability of atmospheric nutrient inputs is analysed within the scope of the project, to assess further impacts on this ecosystem.