Climate Detectives Projects 2019-2020

Project topic: Floods & droughts

Project title: Almargem Lagoon II

Team: Time guardians

2019-2020   Agrupamento de Escolas Dr.ª Laura Ayres – EB 2,3 de Quarteira n.º 2   Quarteira   Portugal   22 Student’s age: 12-13

Summary of the project

At the end of the previous year’s project, we made some predictions about the evolution of the lagoon in case of extreme drought. Once these predictions occurred, we pointed out some measures that could be taken to minimize the impact of water shortages. We intend to ascertain which could be the reason(s) for the lack of water in the lagoon, and if any of them is related to our predictions. For that, we intended to get in touch with local power institutions to try to understand what has been done and what they intend to do; we analyzed data from the application “Climate from Space” and Sentinel-Hub images to compare the climate changes registered in the lagoon in recent years; we made in situ observations regarding local biodiversity but we did not have the opportunity to compare it with the data obtained in the previously school year; we wanted to collect data from the community adjacent to the river that feeds the lagoon, regarding their agricultural practices, urban planning, and knowledge of the surrounding biodiversity.

Main results

We couldn’t approach local institutions or the local community due to the imposition of an “emergency state”. This situation didn’t allow us to collect data on agricultural practices or urbanism, in order to relate them to silting and urban pressure upstream of the lagoon. The satellite images used, as well as the meteoro-logical records analyzed, showed that there has been a drastic decrease in precipitation in the last year. These data resulted in a very significant reduction in the flow of the lagoon, and the disappearance of the majority of wa-ter birds. These facts are extremely worrying because the Lagoon was used as a food and rest area for about 38 species of water birds, some of which are threatened. The loss of bi-odiversity in the lagoon was notorious, which justifies the management of the lagoon and water lines as well as the surrounding area and its designation as a National Ecological Reserve.

Actions to help lessen the problem

We cannot do anything to directly combat climate change, although these changes are caused by the action of man. In that sense, we decided that we could concentrate our actions on raising the awareness of the local community because only with local actions can we become global. Based on this assumption, we consider that information and knowledge are the best actions we can take. In this way, we intended to promote / participate in information sessions that would stimulate people’s awareness of climate change and their individual responsibilities. On a first phase, we intended to involve local authorities (Parish Council of Quarteira, Loulé City Council) as well as the scientific community (University of Algarve, Associação Almargem, among others) to collaborate in the investigation and support possible information and dissemination sessions of the problem under study to the local community. However, the pandemic caused by COVID 19 did not allow us to carry on with them.

Projects are created by the teams and they take the full responsibility of the shared data.
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