Daniel Ruiz Carrascal
Adjunct Research Scientist
I hold a PhD in Earth and Environmental Sciences, an M.Phil in Earth and Environmental Sciences and a Master of Arts in Climate and Society, all of them conferred by Columbia University in the City of New York. I also hold a Master of Science in Water Resources and a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering, both at the National University of Colombia in Medellin.
My areas of expertise include hydrology, climatology, water resources, and environmental health sciences. My research interests have focused on the dynamics of climate change and climate variability and their impacts on two independent fields of interest: human health (particularly mosquito-borne diseases and specifically Plasmodium falciparum malaria infections) and Alpine environments (particularly high-altitude ecosystems of the Tropical Andes, known locally as paramo environments). Most of my research projects have contributed to the design and implementation of adaptation strategies to climate change in the Tropics. To date, my experience includes 30 research projects, 26 research articles, 15 book chapters, and 79 refereed papers in congresses and seminars. I have attended 36 meetings or congresses, given a total number of 87 lectures, received 10 research awards, and supervised 28 undergraduate and graduate students. Since 1994 I have participated in 36 development projects conducted by several engineering consultancy firms and environment protection agencies.
For further info please proceed to my LinkedIn and ResearchGate public profiles.
You can also follow me on Twitter: @RuizCarrascalD.
IRI Home Page
My research on P. falciparum malaria has focused on the analysis of the complexity of the transmission dynamics of this multi-factorial disease. My goal has been to use malaria process-based models to offer useful information that could effectively guide decision-makers in risk assessments, malaria control investments and choice of interventions. In my MSc, MA and PhD programs I worked on the analysis of the complexities, instabilities and sensitivities of multi-factorial systems. I reviewed several malaria dynamical models and created a malaria multi-model ensemble. I proposed a user-friendly, online-downloadable, open source mathematical tool to improve decision-making processes of local and regional health authorities. The ensemble was implemented in various Colombian and Kenyan malaria-prone regions, and required a good understanding of the local climatic and non-climatic conditions driving the final malaria incidence in selected pilot sites. In Colombia, the tool was applied at the municipal level in several malaria-prone regions (in the municipalities with the highest morbidity and transmission levels) and required the characterization of multiple local eco-epidemiological conditions: from predominant type of infection, primary and secondary vectors, mosquito densities and feeding frequencies, climatological variables, key drivers of epidemic outbreaks, to non-climatic factors such as populations at risk, control campaigns and socioeconomic conditions. The ensemble became a key element of the Malaria Early Warning System framework, which is currently part of the Integrated Surveillance and Control System. This system was proposed as the main human health strategy of the Colombian Integrated National Adaptation Pilot project. In Kenya, the malaria multi-model ensemble was implemented to assess the impact of long-term changes in climatic conditions on P. falciparum malaria morbidity observed in Kericho highlands, a place that has long been (and is still) at the center of a hot debate over whether or not global climate change has played a significant role in the post 1980's re-emergence and increasing incidence of this type of malaria infection. Simulations included models' sensitivities to changes in sets of parameters and to increased parasites resistance to anti-malarial drugs. Our results allowed to suggest that long-term changes in climatic conditions and non-linear changes in the mean duration of host's infectivity to mosquito vectors are synergistically driving the increasing incidence of P. falciparum malaria in the Kenyan highlands. In summary, my research goals in this field of interest were: to explore the role that both climatic and non-climatic factors play in fluctuations and trends in malaria morbidity in different 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.
My analyses on paramo environments have focused on two key Colombian protected areas: the Los Nevados Natural Park, which is located on the Ruiz-Tolima volcanic massif in the Colombian Central Cordillera, and the Sierra Nevada del Cocuy, in the Eastern Cordillera. My research has followed a multi-tiered approach to understand the linkages between ongoing changes in climatic conditions and the disruptions affecting the integrity of paramo environments. The main themes of interest of this long-term effort include: (i) analysis of long-term changes in atmospheric (in)stability and in local key circulation dynamics (in particular convective processes and altitudinal shifts in the Lifting Condensation Level and the Level of Free Convection); (ii) analysis of changes in climatic conditions occurring at regional and local scales using paleo-proxies, ground-truth records, satellite data, sea surface temperature data, GCM simulation outputs, and reanalysis data; (iii) diagnosis of water balance/supply and potential changes in hydrological regimes, including assessments of ongoing changes in high-altitude water bodies and aquatic micro-habitats, as well as long-term trends in streamflow records; (iv) assessments of biodiversity levels, the extent of life zones and the potential altitudinal shifts of ecosystems' boundaries; (v) role of anthropic disturbances (e.g. the occurrence and rapid spread of human-set high mountain wildfires); and (vi) quantification of ecosystem services provided by paramo environments and integrity assessments.
Role at the IRI
My ongoing research projects include 'A tropical multi-proxy approach to testing the role of CO2 in the last glacial termination', led by the University of Ireland at Galway, and 'Eco-hydrological dynamics of paramo vegetation associated with its functional traits under historical and projected climatic conditions', funded by EIA University (Colombia) and the National University of Colombia.
Check our recent posts at: New book highlights threatened plants of the Tropical Andes.
And at: This unique Andean ecosystem is warming almost as fast as the Arctic.
Also check our videos at: Climate change threatens a fragile ecosystem in the Andes (Spanish and English versions).
And the EarthSky video (in Spanish): Calentamiento global amenaza a los paramos en Los Andes
IRI Home Page
Representing the IRI around the World
I am currently conducting research projects on high-altitude environments in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. My activities on malaria simulation have included experiments in Botswana, Colombia, Ecuador, and Kenya.