Colombia: “Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta” may be without snow within 20 years

The Colombian Ministry of the Environment says that the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta may be without snow within 20 years.

sierra_nevada-se-derriteThe isolated mountain range reaches altitudes of 18,700 feet and is the world’s highest coastal range. A study by the Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies of Colombia revealed that there are less than 3 square miles of glaciers on the mountain range, merely 10% of what existed at the end of the 19th century.

Minister of the Environment, Gabriel Vallejo, says that rising temperatures have threatened the range’s glaciers, only one of six in Colombia.

The glaciers, which were once a continuous stretch of ice and snow across the Andes, one of the highest coastal mountain ranges in the world, are shrinking at a rate of 3% annually.

The El Niño weather phenomenon, reduced precipitation, and loss of snow accelerates the process, according to Ricardo Lozano, the former director of Colombia’s meteorological institute IDEAM.

“The impact of lost glaciers manifests mainly in the rural water supply,” Lozano is quoted in El Colombiano. “It would be interesting to delve into the impact that loss of water resources would have for different sectors of the economy,” noting that further glaciar research is needed.

The Sierra Nevado de Santa Marta, located on the Caribbean coast, is recognized by UNESCO as a biosphere reserve and World Heritage site, and its glaciers should be considered beyond their aesthetic appeal, notes the coordinator for Geosciences and Coastal Research included in the report.

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