Chile has some of the world's largest open pit copper mines. This mine, named Chuquicamata, is located near Antofagasta in northern Chile.
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Human Impacts in the Southeast Pacific Region
What is the connection between human activity in western Chile and Peru and the Southeast Pacific climate system? Much of this region is very sparsely populated. The lack of rainfall limits where people can live. Most people in this region live in the large coastal or port cities such as Santiago, Valparaiso, Concepcion, Iquique, and Antofagasta in Chile and in Lima and Arequipa in Peru.
Mining is very important in this region. There is a rich variety of minerals, including copper, nitrates, iron, manganese, molybdenum, gold, and silver. This region is one of the world's largest copper-mining centers. The aerosols that are released as part of the copper smelting process will be studied as part of the VOCALS field experiment. This is because aerosols impact the formation of clouds. Learning more about how aerosols impact cloud formation is a key part of VOCALS science.
The nutrient rich coastal waters support a fishing industry that is another important economic activity in this region. Fishing and processing fish are very important especially in larger port cities such as Iquique and Arica. VOCALS scientists are interested in the impact of changing climates on commercial fisheries. If ocean temperatures warm, how will the fish populations be impacted?
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