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The International Summer School

The international summer school on land-cover change and hydroclimate of the La Plata Basin
What:     About 45 students from seven countries in South America participated in an intensive course on the role of land cover and ecosystems on the La Plata Basin regional hydroclimate

When:     2-13 November 2009
Where:     Itaipú Technological Park, Foz do Iguaçu, Paraná State, Brazil

During two weeks in November 2009, a summer school supported by the Inter American Institute for Global Change Research (IAI) took place on the grounds of the Itaipú Hydropower Plant. Originally it was intended that there would be 30 students, but with about 100 applications it was decided to increase the number of seats. The school was attended by 45 graduate students and young scientists with different backgrounds from seven countries, including underrepresented ones.  

The school, focused on the La Plata Basin in South America, followed an interdisciplinary approach and was centered in three main themes:  (a) Vegetation, Land Cover Changes and Ecosystems, (b) Remote Sensing with Applications to Data assimilation and Ecosystems, and (c) Data Assimilation and Mesoscale and Hydrological Modeling.  Classes were complemented with exercises and a Field Trip. Most importantly, the choice of location was made so that participants could relate research typically done at academic centers with applications and operations at one of the largest Hydropower Plants of the world.

The students were given time to make short presentations describing their research interests, which facilitated the exchange of ideas and the creation of a communications network (a google group, akin of a social network but for scientific purposes) that is being used to disseminate news and exchange of ideas. The very positive responses in the students’ evaluations of the course suggest that it could be used as a model for training the next generation of scientists. Some Universities of the region have expressed their interest in giving credits to those students that participated in the summer school. Support is being provided for the necessary administrative process.

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