PEGASUS

Producing EnerGy and preventing hAzards from SUrface water Storage in Peru (PEGASUS)

PEGASUS is a Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) funded project, led by University of Leeds, looking at the impacts climate change is having on glacial retreat in the Peruvian Andes, and the consequent issues with water resources, flood risk, and energy production. Chris Skinner is developing new modelling tools to allow for the modelling of sediment mobilisation and transportation from landscapes left behind retreating glaciers.

In 2019, Josh Wolstenholme visited Cordillera Vilcanota for two weeks of field work. Josh installed instruments to measure water levels in lakes and streams and cameras to record changes in the landscape. We’re looking forward to recovering this data in 2020.

As the glaciers retreat they often leave behind deep depressions that soon fill with meltwater forming proglacial lakes. These lakes act as sinks for sediment, stopping it being carried further down to the rivers. These areas rely on hydroelectric for their energy supply and sediment in rivers poses a hazard to this, as well as posing a risk to properties and making flooding worse.

EWYBbRMXsAU9OCo

Hillshade of southern Peruvian Andes, made using satellite-based elevation data provided by the TanDEM-X programme. This provides us an astonishingly detailed view of land heights (12 m resolution) across this whole area.

Our modelling will help us understand how effective they are at doing this and how long we can expect them to do this before they fill up with sediment completely. We expect to see the first results of this work in early 2021.