Environmental Education in Climate Change and Crop Water Use for Farmers in the Hot Humid Tropics of Nicaragua, Using Agroclimatograms


The discussion regarding climate change tends to be quite abstract and its visualization is not intuitive to common people. This is a problem already addressed by Walter & Lieth in 1960, when they published a world atlas of climatograms compiled at a standard layout. In 1992 Füssel enhanced these to agroclimatograms by including climatic parameters, which are very important to agroforestry in the tropics, specifically with reference to the potential  of evapotranspiration and resulting water budget. Appropriate colouring of these agroclimatograms (shades of blue for water, shades of red for heat, see: www.climatetool.es) and having on hand a comparison of climatological similarities and changes is extremely convenient: They are relatively easy to produce using standard data and are flexible as concerns interpretation, offering an inspiring and rather dynamic approach to the appraisal of climatic conditions and pertinent changes.

URACCAN University is creating a chair on climatology / environmental education at its 4 branches in the hot humid tropics of Nicaragua. The aforementioned agroclimatograms will be used to sensitize farmers to climate change and crop water use, thus assisting them in the adoption of appropriate means of mitigation on their farms: (1) cocoa and coffee crops in agroforestry systems compared to (2) tubers, (3) cattle (extensive free ranging vs. intensive cut and carry) and finally (4) oil palm.

Further, possible climatic changes in the region will be analysed by the same tool in campaigns for the general public, using historical climatological data dating back over a century and compiling a web-based world atlas of agroclimatograms. A nearby region, of humid climate in the past but turned sub-humid as a result of local deforestation, is used as an illustrative example.

Full article scheduled for End of May 2010 and to be published at the International Virtual Conference "Climate Change and the Sustainable Management of Water Resources" in November 2010.