Peru: Disappearing Andean glaciers could affect 30 million people

Living in Peru
Israel J. Ruiz

Over the past 27 to 35 years, twenty-two percent of the surface has been lost of the 18 currently existing mountain glaciers in Peru, says World Bank engineer Walter Vergara, in his new report, "The Impacts of Climate Change in Latin America."

In his report, Vergara notes that 99 percent of the Chacaltaya glacier in Bolivia has already disappeared, explaining that 70 percent of the world’s tropical glaciers are in Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador’s high Andes Cordillera.

Scientists had initially predicted for the glacier, which used to cover an entire mountain, to last until 2013.

Unfortunately, it has been reduced to a white patch on a mountainside and is fast disappearing along with other Andean glaciers, says the World Bank engineer.

The cause is global warming, explains Vergara, stating that greenhouse gases are the main driver. "The scientific community has a consensus—this is manmade."

The loss of the glaciers would have devastating effects such as the loss of future water supply, agriculture and power generation.

At least 30 million people’s water supply would be affected by the loss of the glaciers.

It has been predicted that lower altitude glaciers could disappear in 10 years.

With these dangers present, the World Bank and Global Environment Facility are developing adaptation strategies for local communities.

Furthermore, the World Bank signed an agreement this month with the Japanese Space Agency to better monitor Andes Glacier retreat.