Daniel Ruiz Carrascal
Adjunct Research Scientist
Associate Professor at the Department of Environmental Engineering, Antioquia School of Engineering (Colombia)
Daniel Ruiz Carrascal is an adjunct researcher at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (CU-USA) and an associate professor at the Department of Environmental Engineering, Antioquia School of Engineering (Colombia). He is the principal investigator of the Hydroclimatology Team of the research group Investigacion en Gestion Ambiental (IGEA) at the Antioquia School of Engineering. Ruiz Carrascal holds a PhD in earth and environmental sciences (CU-USA), an MPhil in earth and environmental sciences (CU-USA), an MA in climate and society (CU-USA), an MS in water resources (National University of Colombia-UNAL), and a BS in civil engineering (UNAL).
Ruiz Carrascal’s areas of expertise include hydrology, climatology, water resources, and environmental health sciences. His research interests focus on environmental change, climate variability and change in high-mountain watersheds, and climate variability/change and human health impacts. To date, his experience includes 17 research projects, 16 indexed articles, 10 book chapters, and 48 refereed papers in congresses, seminars, meetings, and workshops. He has 25 conferences, given a total number of 63 lectures, received 9 research awards, and supervised 13 undergraduate and graduate students. Since 1994, Ruiz Carrascal has participated in 36 development projects conducted by several engineering consultancy firms and environment protection agencies.
Over the past three years he has conducted various research projects, all contributing to adaptation strategies to climate change in the Tropics. His research has focused on two independent areas of interest: (a) high-altitude ecosystems of the Tropical Andes, focusing on the so-called paramo ecosystems, and (b) mosquito-borne diseases, focusing on Plasmodium falciparum malaria infections. These topics have been considered areas of primary concern by numerous international research groups.
His analyses on paramo ecosystems have focused on the life zones inhabiting the Los Nevados Natural Park, a key protected area and a representative high-altitude environment that is located on the El Ruiz-Tolima volcanic massif, on the Colombian Central Cordillera. His research follows a six-tiered approach to understand the linkages between the ongoing changes in climatic conditions and the disruptions affecting the integrity of high-altitude environments. Activities include: the analysis of long-term changes in atmospheric (in)stability, e.g. altitudinal shifts in the Lifting Condensation Level and the Level of Free Convection, and changes in local circulation patterns; the diagnosis of water balance/supply and potential changes in hydrological regimes, including assessment of the ongoing changes in high-altitude water bodies and aquatic micro-habitats, as well as long-term trends in streamflow historical records; the assessment of biodiversity levels and the extent of life zones in high-altitude environments, e.g. the potential altitudinal shifts of ecosystems boundaries and reductions/expansions of life zones; the analysis of occurrence (frequency, affected area, and duration) and rapid spread of high mountain wildfires; the quantification of environmental goods and services provided by high-altitude environments and the assessment of the integrity of paramo ecosystems; and the assessment (through exploratory and confirmatory analyses) of changes in climatic conditions occurring at regional and local scales using ground-truth records, satellite data, sea surface temperatures data, and reanalysis simulation outputs.
His research on P. falciparum malaria has focused on the analysis of the complexity of the transmission dynamics of this multi-factorial disease. His goal has been to use malaria process-based models to offer useful information that could effectively guide decision-makers in risk assessment, malaria control investments and choice of interventions. He recently reviewed several malaria dynamical models and has created a first version of a multi-model ensemble. He has also implemented a set of those mathematical tools in Colombian and Kenyan malaria-prone regions. The exercise required a good understanding of the local climatic and non-climatic conditions driving the final malaria incidence in the selected pilot sites. His interests were to: explore the role that both climatic and non-climatic factors play in fluctuations and trends in malaria morbidity in these pilot areas; estimate the timing and magnitude of their malaria outbreaks; analyze the role of different drivers; investigate the ongoing decision making processes; investigate the impacts of malaria control interventions; and answer various what-if questions.
Role at the IRI
Ruiz Carrascal is currently leading the research projects entitled (a) Dendrochronological potential of Polylepis and Espeletia in the high-altitude ecosystems of the Colombian Central Cordillera, South America; (b) Impacts of climate change on biodiversity in the Tropical Andes: climate-related vulnerability and risk assessments and improved decision making processes for conservation and land use planning in two Andean biodiversity hotspots; and (c) Simulating malaria transmission dynamics in the pilot areas of the Colombian Integrated National Adaptation Pilot Project, contributions to the Malaria Early Warning System and the Colombian Integrated Surveillance and Control System.
For further information, see our latest videos at: Climate change threatens a fragile ecosystem in the Andes (Spanish and English versions)
See also the EarthSky video (in Spanish): Calentamiento global amenaza a los paramos en Los Andes
Representing the IRI around the World
Ruiz Carrascal is currently conducting research projects on high-altitude environments in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. His activities on malaria simulation have included experiments in Botswana, Colombia, Ecuador, and Kenya.