The National Geographic Society awarded Dr. Postigo and his co-PI $100,000 for a project using historial aerial photographs and digital cartography to create a new baseline for glacier retreat in the Peruvian Andes. Dr. Postigo's team was also awarded $140,000 from the University of Chicago to better understand rural to urban transformation in Phenom Penh, Cambodia. Abstracts for both projects are below.
Visualizing 90 Years of Water Tower Transformation in the Peruvian Andes
Using novel techniques merging aerial repeat photography and digital cartography, and compelling storytelling of the earliest aerial exploration of the Andes, our project brings global attention to the high alpine environments of the Peruvian Andes where climate change is rapidly transforming the Andean water towers of the Cordilleras. We will measure accelerating losses in glacial ice volume over nine decades and weave in storytelling from historic aerial exploration, climate science, and community perspectives of glacier change to consider the socio-ecological impacts of decreasing water availability and threats to water security for regional populations. Drawing on aerial photographs captured in 1931, our study will create an unprecedented perspective of glacier changes and establish a new historic baseline reference of glacier cover. Highly compelling 2-D and 3-D visualizations will quantify glacial losses through ice volume change calculations, and will be used to generate visually compelling maps informed by the perspectives of local communities members and scientists of the historic glacier extent and its impacts. This interdisciplinary research will produce outreach and educational materials highlighting the social and ecological importance of water towers, which are critical in informing local stakeholders and policymakers in regional adaptation planning for land use and water management in these ranges at the headwaters of the Amazon.
Becoming Urban: Understanding the Urban Transformation of Migrants to Phnom Penh
We will document the process of becoming urban at a critical time in Cambodian history. Through traditional and distributed ethnographic methods, our team will explore the lived experiences of migrants from rural villages to urban centers; the economic, environmental and social factors that drove the decision to migrate; and the changing connections to place, space and people that result from becoming urban.