During the passage of cold fronts, the 0°C isotherm typically is located at about 2.500 masl. permitting snow accumulation in the upper half of the basins during winter. The upper watersheds in the basins are therefore typically snowmelt dominated, and due to the time lag between snow accumulation and melt, maximum river discharge is reached during late spring and summer month (October-January) (Vicuna et al., 2010). In lower altitudes, in wet years a two peak hydrograph is observed, where the first peak is a response to liquid precipitation, whereas the second peak in spring is related to snow or glacier melt (see Favier et al., 2009). The Hurtado River drains the driest north-eastern part of the basin, filling the Recoleta Reservoir which has a capacity of 100 million m³. The Rio Grande has a much larger drainage area of 544m² due to the southern contributions of the Río Rapel (Álvarez et al., 2006; Oyarzún, 2010). The Guatulame River is regulated through the Cogotí reservoir with 150 million m³ storage capacity. The river runoff from Río Guatulame downstream of the Cogotí reservoir and from the Río Grande is stored by the reservoir La Paloma, with a storage capacity of 750 million m³. Hence, the whole basin is regulated through the three reservoirs forming the ‘La Paloma’-System with a potential total capacity of 1 billion m³, to store and distribute the available water throughout the year and to irrigate 48.000 hectares of cropland (Parga et al., 2005; Álvarez, 2006; Oyarzún, 2010).


References and further reading:

Álvarez, P., Kretschmer, N., Oyarzún, R. (2006) Water Management for Irrigation in Chile: Causes and Consequences, paper presented at the international water fair “Wasser Berlin 2006”.

Favier, V., Falvey, M., Rabatel, A., Praderio, E., López, D. (2009) Interpreting discrepancies between discharge and precipitation in high-altitude area of Chile’s Norte Chico region (26–32°S), Water Resources Research, 45, W02424, doi:10.1029/2008WR006802.

Gomez, B., Carter, L., Orpin, A. R., Cobb, K. M., Page, M. J., Trustrum, N. A., Palmer, A. S. (2011): ENSO/SAM interactions during the middle and late Holocene, The Holocene, DOI: 10.1177/0959683611405241.

McPhaden, M. J., Zebiak, S. E., Glantz, M. H. (2006) ENSO as an Integrating Concept in Earth Science, Science 15 December 2006: 314 (5806), 1740-1745, DOI:10.1126/science.1132588. 

Montecinos, A., Aceituno, P. (2003) Seasonality of the ENSO-related rainfall variability in central Chile and associated circulation anomalies, Journal of Climate, 16, 281-296. 

Oyarzún, R. (2010) Estudio de caso: Cuenca del Limarí, Región de Coquimbo, Chile, Compilación Resumida de Antecedentes, Centro de Estudios Avanzados en Zonas Aridas- Universidad de la Serena (CEAZA-ULS).

Parga, F., León, A., Vargas, X., Fuster, R. (2005) El índice de pobreza hídrica aplicado a la cuenca del Río Limarí en Chile semiárido, volumen XI, El Agua en Iberoamérica en 2005, on the 15th of August 2011.

Peel, M. C., Finalyson, B. L., Mc Mahon, T. A. (2007) Updated World Map of the Köppen‐Geiger Climate Classification. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 11(5): 1633‐1644.

Souvignet, M., Gaese, H., Ribbe, L., Kretschmer, N., Oyarzún, R. (2010) Statistical downscaling of precipitation and temperature in north-central Chile: an assessment of possible climate change impacts in an arid Andean watershed, Hydrological Sciences Journal, 55(1), 41-57. 

Tudhope, A. W., Chilcott, C. P., Mc Culloch, M. T., Cook, E. R., Chappell, J., Ellam, R. M., Lea, D. W., Lough, J. M., Shimmield, G. B. (2001) Variability in the El Niño Southern Oscillation Through a Glacial-Interglacial Cycle, Science, 291, 23.

Verbist, K., Robertson, A. W., Cornelis, W., Gabriels, D. (2010) Seasonal predictability of daily rainfall characteristics in central-northern Chile for dry-land management, Journal for Applied Meteorology and Climate, 49(9), 1938-1955.

VicuñA, S., Garreaud, R. D., McPhee, J. (2010) Climate change impacts on the hydrology of a snowmelt driven basin in semiarid Chile, Climatic Change, 105(3-4), 469-488.

FaLang translation system by Faboba