• Water Production Connections

Researcher Profile: Fernando de Sales

Edited by Cassie Sevigny


Fernando looks into camera, shoulders and body facing slightly to the left. Short green grass and bush with pink flowers directly behind him. Tall white fence behind that, with tree blocking most of the sky behind the fence.

The Connections between Water and Rural Production project (CAP) investigates whether and which farmers adapt their production systems when they experience water variability, what adaptations they make, and whether these adaptations reduce income losses when droughts occur. Improved understanding of these feedbacks will inform efforts by government agencies and civil society to help farmers respond to water scarcity. This profile is based on an interview with Co-Principal Investigator Fernando de Sales, a climate scientist at San Diego State University.



Why and how did you become involved in this project?

I have always wanted to participate in a multidisciplinary research project, especially one that promotes conservation and sustainability in the Brazilian rainforest as a way to give back to my home country. I was invited to join the research group as the regional climate specialist by Trent Biggs. I contributed to the research proposal by suggesting the use of climate model scenarios that included future land-use and land-cover changes in Rondonia incorporating regional and global climate forcing.

What is your favorite part of being in the field?

Although climate modeling does not require extensive field work, I try to take advantage of opportunities to get to know the region I am studying and field work provides that opportunity. I really enjoy meeting the locals and experiencing their interactions with the physical environment. Somehow that helps me connect with the study area as I perform my climate model simulations in the lab.

What has been the biggest challenge of performing research?

I'd say that figuring out the right questions that we want to answer with the help of climate models has been the biggest challenge.

What’s one thing you’ve learned while participating in this project?

That Rondonia has a vibrant and diverse population that cares about the rainforest and its future. I have also learned that working with researchers from different disciplines can be challenging but also very rewarding, as they often approach common problems from a different perspective than myself. That is very helpful when trying to solve complex problems such as the connections between deforestation, rural production, and the water cycle.

Why do you think this project is important?

I believe that the project will help communities of Rondonia make informed decisions to improve their well-being while conserving the ecosystem and promoting sustainability.