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Peru, Glacier Loss And Economic & Political Destabilization - 22% Of Andean Glaciers Gone In 35 Yrs.

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hatrack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-17-11 10:02 AM
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Peru, Glacier Loss And Economic & Political Destabilization - 22% Of Andean Glaciers Gone In 35 Yrs.

Its ice is melting, but the majesty of Huascarn Mountain hasnt diminished. Perus tallest mountain, its white peak still pierces the clouds on an overcast day in the Cordillera Blanca, part of the Andes range that stretches through Perus northwest department of Ancash. Communities in the Cordillera Blanca still revere Huascarn for its beauty and the water it provides that allows them to survive in Perus extreme terrain, far from Lima and often beyond the reach of government services.

But over the last 20 years, theyve watched Huascarns glacier start to disappear, the ice giving way to more black rock year after year. It used to take you two or three hours walking to reach the ice. But now you have to walk five, six hours to reach ice, said Maximo Juan Malpaso Carranza, a farmer in Utupampa, a small community high in the Cordillera Blanca, as he installed a water pipe beneath the villages dirt road to bring water from Huascarn to 105 houses. We all get water from there. Thats where the water source is, he said, pointing to Huascarn. But if the ice disappears, there wont be any more water.

Peru has lost 22 percent of its glaciers over the last 35 years, according to the Peruvian Ministry of Environment. Research by Csar Portocarrero, the Peruvian governments lead glacier scientist, shows the Cordillera Blanca, which is home to one-quarter of the worlds tropical glaciers, has lost 30 percent of its glaciers since 1970. Parts of the Central Andes, the mountain range that supplies many of Perus coastal cities with water, have lost more 60 percent of their glaciers in the last 40 years. We know some glaciers could disappear in 20 years. We know this, Portocarrero said.

The impact of glacier melt extends beyond the Andes. More than 2 million people, stretching from the Andes to the coastal cities, get their drinking water and irrigation from rivers fed by glacier runoff from Cordillera Blanca, according to Portocarreros studies. The secondary impacts of glacier melt will affect many more.

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