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Issues Affecting the Río de la Plata Basin

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May 5th, 2013 Category: Climate Change, Rivers

Argentina – May 4th, 2013

The Río de la Plata Basin, with a surface area of over 3,200,000 km2 is the second largest drainage basin in South America and the fourth largest in the world. It covers the whole of Paraguay as well as considerable parts of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil and Uruguay, including within its central plain the most extensive corridor of fluvial wetlands on the planet, as well as some of the most densely inhabited mega-cities in South America and in the world.

The ecosystems in the region, and its wetlands in particular, are significant examples of the abundance, variety and quality of natural resources, which facilitate the production of a large number of environmental goods and services of great economic and ecological importance.

The natural resources of the Río de la Plata Basin and the associated goods and services are threatened by factors such as the fragmentation of natural ecosystems, the expansion of agricultural borders, large-scale livestock rearing, major infrastructure projects, urban development and pollution, which not only affect the wetlands and biodiversity but also the local communities that depend on these resources, not to mention food safety and the global climate.

Unsustainable production is affecting the traditional production models in the region, increasing the impact of drought and flooding, and reducing the capacity for adaptation to climate change, which has a negative impact on the welfare of local populations, creating conditions that give rise to migration to large cities and increasing
poverty (click here for more information).

Pollution Issues Affecting Río de la Plata Estuary, Argentina – February 16th, 2013

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February 16th, 2013 Category: Image of the day, Rivers, Sediments

Argentina and Uruguay – January 26th, 2013

The Río de la Plata is a complex water system that connects the del Plata Basin with the Atlantic Ocean. Streams flow from southwest to northeast discharging along the coast of the Río de la Plata Estuary.

Its southwestern coastal sector holds densely populated areas (here, the city of Buenos Aires is visible as a large grey area) with tributaries running across them, which are also receptors of different discharges of pollutants. Human activity is the cause of serious pollution of surface waters, sediments and soils due to point and non-point industrial, agricultural and urban sources.

Results of recent studies show high burdens of different chemical loads in tributaries such as Riachuelo and Canal Oeste. Concentration levels of pollutants are within ranges expected to produce biological effects on aquatic biota, pointing to the need for mitigation interventions (click here for more information).

Paraná Delta and Rio de la Plata Estuary, Argentina

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January 29th, 2013 Category: Rivers, Wetlands

Argentina – January 28th, 2013

The Paraná River runs through Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina, where it flows into another river called Río de la Plata. Through the Parana Delta and the Rio de la Plata estuary, the second major hydrographic basin of South America (La Plata Basin) drains to the Atlantic Ocean.

From a geologic perspective, the complex system of the delta and the estuary are considered a dynamic sedimentary geologic-hydrologic unit which has a vital relevance not only for the region -a high populated area with more than 22 million inhabitants- but also for the hydrology of South American continent. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the Rio de la Plata, the Amazon and the Orinoco carry into the Atlantic Ocean more than 30% of the renewable freshwater of the world.

The Delta of the Paraná River is one of the largest coastal wetlands systems of Argentina, spreading over 320 km and covering a surface of 15000 km2. The Delta presents a variable width, from 18 Km up to 100 km, and according to landscape parameters and hydrologic regimes, it presents more than 10 landscape units distributed in 3 zones: Superior, Medium and Lower Delta. The Parana Delta is rich in biodiversity and natural resources and faces the pressures of urban growth and the consequences of climate changes. It is a natural capital which represents a valuable benefit for the human population due to the ecosystem’s goods and services.

The high sediment transportation rate of the Parana River turns the delta into a changing territory whose front is expanding towards the Rio de la Plata and it is expected to reach the coast of the city of Buenos Aires (visible here as a grey area on the shores of the estuary) in around 110 years. This future trend makes important to develop a study of the complete system taking into account the natural phenomenon, the relation with the dynamics of the urbanization processes and climate changes (click here for more information).

Sun Glint on Rio de la Plata Estuary and Rincón del Bonete Lake, Argentina and Uruguay – December 15th, 2012

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December 15th, 2012 Category: Image of the day, Lakes, Rivers

Argentina – December 13th, 2012

Sun glint causes the waters of the Rio de la Plata Estuary and the Rincón del Bonete Lake (upper right) to have a silvery color. The estuary is formed by the confluence of the Uruguay and Paraná Rivers, and it is located between Argentina and Uruguay. The Rincón del Bonete Lake is the largest body of fresh water in Uruguay. It is an artificial lake formed by a dam on the course of Río Negro. It was constructed in 1945 and has a surface of about 1,240 square kilometres (480 sq mi).

Varied Hues of Sediments in Rio de la Plata Estuary, Argentina and Uruguay

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December 7th, 2012 Category: Rivers, Sediments

Argentina – December 2nd, 2012

A beautiful mix of colors from sediments and algal growth can be seen in the Rio de la Plata Estuary, between Argentina (below, left) and Uruguay (above, right): many different hues including dark brown, tan, greyish brown, green and blue are all present. Visible on the Argentine side is the country’s capital city, Buenos Aires, appearing as a large grey area. Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, is visible further east, on the upper banks.