Alerting Bolivia by disappearance of tropical Andean glaciers

As giants in agony, tropical Andean glaciers are melting at a rate that worries scientists. Its unstoppable decline in recent decades raises the suspicion of human responsibility as harmful phenomenon as the melting of polar ice caps .

This natural disaster was focus on the UN conference on climate change COP20, the disappearance of these ice castles, located between Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and Colombia in an area where the Andes mountain range covering about 1,700 km2 affects the availability of fresh water and could increase sea level.

Climate change seriously threatens to disappear until 2030 to Tropical Andean glaciers in Bolivia that are below 5,400 meters, according to two studies of Non Governmental Organization (NGO) and private Climate Reaction League for the Defense of the Environment (Lidema -in spanish).

Both studies separately bothered to analyze the consequences of global warming and the snow-capped Andes of Bolivia, which could have serious consequences for water supply in the cities of La Paz and El Alto, both in the West of Bolivia.

The researcher Amos Battos, from the Climate Reaction NGO, said this alarming result emerges from a study developed coincident with others, that in 2030 all Andean glaciers that are below 5,400 meters high would disappear.

“This means that the main sources of freshwater Bolivians, mainly the inhabitants of the Andean region, would be extinct,” said Battos.

The disappearance of glaciers, Battos said, by wildfires is precisely accelerates.

“The black soot that is produced and ascends in the air sits on the ice, and thus obscures it and focuses more heat on its surface, speeding the melting of the snow,” he said.

He raised immediate action to address this “worrying” situation in order to mitigate their consequences.

Meanwhile, the Lidema Foundation said climate change is seriously threaten three glaciers of the Cordillera Real, as the Chacaltaya and the Tuni Condorini and the Illimani, in the Bolivian Andean region, which annually one meter melt and is expected before 2030 have disappeared.


The Lidema coordinator, René Baptista explained on derivations of these snowy thaw. “These glaciers located in the Bolivian municipality of La Paz are disappearing, because although there are most rainy than other years, will not recover as glaciers.

“It is an irreversible trend that will complicate the provision of water and the temperature rise in the region,” he said.

One of the most troubling issues is the provision of potable water for cities, because the glaciers represent 20 percent of the volume of the liquid element consumed in urban centers.

For communities in rural areas, shortage of meltwater affect agricultural production and even their livelihoods.

“If other water sources are not achieved means that communities will disappear and a migration to cities will occur,” said Baptista.

According to the projection of the specialist, the melting glaciers will cause an increase in temperature in La Paz in about 0.3 degrees Celsius per decade, so that the environmental impact will be felt in both fauna and flora.

Studies indicate that the disappearance of some plant and animal species is an indicator of this change.

Also is the emergence of other species, such as the mosquito in the Altiplano.

In the case of Mount Chacaltaya, 20 years ago had a half mile of ice, and now this area has been reduced to 50 square meters, which lost its importance as a source of water supply.

The Illimani, it is estimated that over the past 50 years has lost between 40-50 percent of its mass of ice, a process that intensifies with the lack of rain.


The melting of glaciers and drought leave without water to millions of people in the world in a few years, and is one of the most affected countries, so that his government and organizations began working to determine their current levels, threats setbacks and plan programs to mitigate climate impacts.

Carlos Fuentes, from the National Climate Change Program, under the Ministry of Environment and Water, explained that an inventory of glaciers in the Cordillera Real in relation to water is made to determine their levels in recent years.

The project consists in making current images by satellite, to be compared to previous.

Among the peaks of the Cordillera Real located in the municipality of La Paz are the Illampu, Huayna Potosi, and the Illimani, Mururata, Condoriri and Chacaltaya.

The data from these studies, according to sources, will be used in the design of adaptation measures to be implemented and after systematize, policies and recommendations will be developed to address potential climate impacts.

This is a project that works in the countries of the Andean Community Regional: Peru, Ecuador, , and less intensity in Colombia.

In the case of Bolivia it has invested two million US dollars.

For two years, and more dramatically in recent years, various international and national bodies have published reports on the effects of climate change and glaciers, and concrete actions are expected, according to Lidema.

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