Climate change halves Peru glacier: official

By Agence France-Presse
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 21:02 EDT
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LIMA – A glacier on Peru’s Huaytapallana Moutain shed half its surface ice in just 23 years, officials said Wednesday, reinforcing concerns of climate change’s growing threat to fresh water resources.

“Recent scientific studies indicate that between June 1983 and August 2006, the glacier has lost 50 percent of its surface ice,” Erasmo Meza, manager of natural resources and the environment in the central Andean region of Junin, told the official Andina news agency.

He said the five square kilometers (1.9 square miles) of ice shrinkage on Huaytapallana, whose steep, jagged glacier and breathtaking lakes are popular tourist draws, was caused by global warming and presents growing problems in agriculture, health, fresh water resources and disaster mitigation.

To prevent further deterioration on the 5,557-meter (18,230-foot) mountain, the regional government of Junin is developing a project to declare Huaytapallana a natural conservation area — a move Meza said could help prevent damage from a mining company doing a feasibility study in the area.

Glacier studies are often carried out in the Andes, the so-called “Roof of the Americas” region comprising more than 100 peaks above 5,000 meters (16,500 feet).

But the Huaytapallana studies show a sharper rate of glacial melt than other major findings.

A 2009 World Bank-published report said that in the last 35 years, Peru’s glaciers have shrunk by 22 percent, leading to a 12 percent loss in the amount of fresh water reaching the coast — home to most of the country’s citizens.

It also warned that Andean glaciers and the peaks’ permanent snow caps could disappear in 20 years if no measures are taken to tackle climate change, echoing the findings of Peruvian agencies.

One of the most threatened is Pastoruri, a 5,200-meter (17,060-foot) peak in Huascaran National Park in northern Peru that is home to Huascaran Mountain, Peru’s highest point at 6,768 meters (22,200 feet).

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
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  • Anonymous

    I’m just over 60 and very lucky I lived during the good times. The next generation is inheriting, literally, oceans of garbage, air pollution, overpopulation, increase in the greenhouse effect and politicians who will do nothing to make it better… all elected by uniformed goobers who actually believe what they see & hear on Fox News [sic]. We bitch about the price of oil/gas now, but soon it will be harder to find clean water… and by then it will be to late.

  • Ron1127

    I am of the same age and agree. My much older brother introduced me to backpacking in the Sierra Mountains in Calfornia in the 1960s. Back then you could drink the water flowing from the streams. But for the past 30+ years its all been poisoned. I read Rachael Carson in a tent in the mountains – she warned of the greenhouse effect, etc.

    Once the glaciers are gone from the Andes, so goes the water.

    Not much to see here, folks, vote for American Idol, surf porn.