Paramo ecosystems are tropical alpine grasslands, located above 3000 m.a.s.l. in the Andean mountain range. Their unique vegetation and soil characteristics, in combination with low temperature and abundant precipitation, create the most advantageous conditions for regulating and storing surface and groundwater. However, increasing temperatures and changing patterns of precipitation due to greenhouse-gas-emission climate change are threatening these fragile environments. In this study, we used regional observations and downscaled data for precipitation and minimum and maximum temperature during the reference period 1960–1990 and simulations for the future period 2041–2060 to study the present and future extents of paramo ecosystems in the Chingaza National Park (CNP), nearby Colombia’s capital city, Bogotá. The historical data were used for establishing upper and lower precipitation and temperature boundaries to determine the locations where paramo ecosystems currently thrive. Our results found that increasing mean monthly temperatures and changing precipitation will render 39 to 52% of the current paramo extent in CNP unsuitable for these ecosystems during the dry season, and 13 to 34% during the wet season. The greatest loss of paramo area will occur during the dry season and for the representative concentration pathway (RCP) scenario 8.5, when both temperature and precipitation boundaries are more prone to be exceeded. Although our initial estimates show the future impact on paramos and the water security of Bogotá due to climate change, complex internal and external interactions in paramo ecosystems make it essential to study other influencing climatic parameters (e.g., soil, topography, wind, etc.) apart from temperature and precipitation.
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