In the last 54 years, Peru has lost 57% of its glacier coverage, which in simpler terms means that the country has been left without more than half of one of its main water reserves for the future.
According to the latest National Inventory of Glaciers and Lakes, prepared by the National Institute of Research on Glaciers and Mountain Ecosystems (INAIGEM), between 1962 and 2016 snow cover fell from 1,035 km2 to 445 km2 due to global warming.
�This has a very significant current and future impact on the availability of water resources, economic activities and the provision of water for the population,� said INAIGEM�s Director of Research Management, Ricardo Villanueva. He added that the inventory has been done in 16 of the country�s 18 snow-capped mountain ranges.
In the Central Cordillera the reduction of snowfall between 1962 and 2016 went from 117 km2 to 40 km2, that is to say, it decreased by 65%.
�Our data estimates that the volume of water that has flowed into the sea from this thaw is 3 billion cubic meters, which is the equivalent of supplying water for the population of Lima for 5 years,� added Villanueva.
The official explained that there are currently no mechanisms to take advantage of the water produced by the thaw. He urged local and regional governments to implement projects with this purpose in mind. He added that in cases such as Lake Palcacocha in �ncash (where there is danger of overflow) there is no political will for risk management.
Today Peru has 2,679 glaciers with an approximate area of ‘�1,300 km2. According to different scenario-based studies, such as the one carried out by the Cryo-Peru project where the glaciers are projected to disappear before 2100, the only way to supply water to the coast (where 55.9% of Peru�s population lives) during the dry Andean winters will be through the transfer of water from the Amazon river basin, whose waters drain to the Atlantic Ocean.
While some may not agree with the research or believe that it is exaggerated or misrepresented for ulterior motives by scientists and organizations who seek funding, the urgency of the implications ought to be respected and discussed.
One of our contributors wrote two years ago that there should not be any more debate about the issue, only action. One of the most standout pieces of evidence we have is the rapid disappearance of the Pastoruri glacier in Ancash (depicted in the cover photo, taken in October of 2016), which some experts estimate to have less than 10 years of existence left.
What do you think about INAIGEM�s findings and analysis?