CR 12:185-193 (1999)  -  doi:10.3354/cr012185

Vulnerability to climate change in Uruguay: potential impacts on the agricultural and coastal resource sectors and response capabilities

Annie Hareau1,*, Raúl Hofstadter2, Andrés Saizar3

1Paraguay 1321, Esc. 802, Montevideo 11100, Uruguay
2Sistemas Hidráulicos Ltda., Paysandú 1439, Montevideo 11100, Uruguay
3Dirección Nacional de Medio Ambiente, Rincón 422, Montevideo 11000, Uruguay

ABSTRACT: Uruguay's economy is mostly based on the use of natural resources that are affected by the strongly variable climate conditions to which the country is exposed. Climate changes induced by greenhouse warming are likely to enhance the country's vulnerability to environmental phenomena and are thus a matter of concern. The analyses carried out, particularly regarding crops, grasslands, and coastal resources, have evidenced the need to develop advanced response strategies framed within sectoral development plans. The type and sign of the effect on crop production would vary, depending on the crop involved. Grassland production is likely to be favored by increased temperature conditions, while precipitation deficiencies or increased variability would be detrimental. The predicted changes in sea level, even the most conservative, would put at risk high capital value land and infrastructure along the Uruguayan coast. Since the coast is frequently affected by storms, the overall vulnerability would also be determined by changes in storm patterns. It was observed that while appropriate conditions are encountered at both the technical and political levels to address changes that may affect the agricultural sector, a considerable effort is required to develop integrated coastal zone management plans that combine general and private interests and include responses to climate change.

KEY WORDS: Climate change · Vulnerability · Response capabilities · Agriculture · Coastal resources · Uruguay

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