Patagonia, Chile is home to the Southern Ice Field, the third largest source of freshwater on the planet, which supports a large area of surrounding contiguous rainforest and the myriad natural processes within their watersheds. These pristine basins are some of the last remaining ecosystems where riverine processes run freely from their glacial origins to their ocean deltas. The Center for Ecohydraulics Research is pursuing studies of sediment transport, open channel hydraulics and geomorphologic changes in these catchments.
The region is currently undergoing rapid development with proposed hydropower dams and large-scale infrastructure expansion. The Center for Ecohydraulics Research is working with local universities and government agencies in Chile to better understand the natural processes of pristine river catchments in order to assess the design of the proposed dams and their environmental impacts. A better understanding of riverine dynamics will help the agencies involved focus on sustainability and proper management of their water resources.