The Bolivian glaciers are in retreat.
Miriam Telma Jemio
By: Univision. Posted: Jan 19, 2017, Bolivia.
The impact of climate change on tropical glaciers, of which 20% is in Bolivia, in the Cordillera Real, are an important source of water for the inhabitants of the communities and cities around El Alto and La Paz. The evidence of this problem is investigated by scientists and comprovated by the inhabitants of the communities around glaciers such as Condoriri, Illimani, Samara and Chacaltaya, when they see the hills becoming increasingly black. The Real mountain range also have important glaciers: Illimani, Mururata, Huayna, Potosí and Illampu. La Paz already experiences rationing due to water scarcity. In this context, these communities must obtain water for drinking, agricultural production and camelid breeding, but there is also the long-term loss of their tourist activity for those who like to climb these snow-capped mountains.
The more heat, more perishable water and less ice. A formula that would explain the impact of climate change on tropical glaciers, 20% of which is in Bolivia, in the Cordillera Real, and are an important source of vital fluid consumed by inhabitants of the communities and cities around it Alto and La Paz.
The evidence of this problem is investigated by scientists through research and verified by the inhabitants of communities near glaciers such as Condoriri, Illimani and Samaja when they see that the hills become increasingly black.
Thus, while the Bolivian glaciologist Edson Ramírez says that the snowy Condoriri loses every year between 12 and 15 meters of its white cover, villagers like Efraín Mamani, have the impression that this snowfall retreats per year “at least” 10 meters. Scientists and community members, perhaps the latter, are worried about this obvious setback, because in the future it leads to lack of water. Researchers want to establish how much that will be, data that will serve decision makers. According to the IDR, the Condoriri glacier has an extinction trend curve towards the year 2045; While the Tuni towards 2025.
In this context, these communities must contend to have water for their consumption and agricultural production and for the raising of camelid cattle, but at the same time with the loss in the long term of their tourist activity due to the constant loss of attractiveness for those who like to climb those snowy.
The scientific evidence.
What happens to tropical glaciers is the most visible evidence of the impact of climate change. And it is more the extinction of the Chacaltaya, the only glacier monitored by scientists until their “death,” says glaciologist and researcher Edson Ramirez.
The accelerated increase in glacier melting in Bolivia began in the early 1980s. One study states that 376 glaciers in the Cordillera Real lost an average of 43% (0.9 km3) of volume between 1963 and 2006 and of its surface area between 1975 and 2006.
For this reason, the changes registered by the inhabitants of communities bordering the snowy Condoriri, Sajama and Illimani are studied by Bolivian and foreign scientists. Tropical glaciers are important indicators of climate change, especially those that are above 4,000 meters. They play an important role in regulating the hydrological regime in almost all Andean regions, particularly those subject to long dry periods, according to the United Nations Environment Program.
The Royal mountain range the most important snowfalls: Illimani, Mururata, Huayna Potosí and Illampu. Also to the glaciers of the basin of the Tuni and the Condoriri (that provide part of the water that is consumed in the cities of El Alto and La Paz) and those of Zongo, region where electrical energy is generated for both cities. Academics agree that there is a clear increase in temperature, changes in rainfall patterns, and extreme events are more frequent and severe, such as droughts and floods.
One of the studies carried out by the French Institute of Research for Development (IRD), shows that in 1975 there were 376 glaciers in the Cordillera Real; In 2006 there were 129. “This represents the loss of 48% of glaciers, an area of 34 square kilometers,” explains Alvaro Soruco, one of the researchers in the study published in the publication “Declining glaciers in the Cordillera Real de Bolivia Between 1963 and 2006 “.
Soruco’s research covered the water resources that came from these giants. It established that in the humid season, the Condoriri glaciers, in the Tuni basin, Milluni, Hampaturi and Incachaca, for example, contribute with 12% of the drinking water consumed in the cities of La Paz and El Alto and with 27% in dry period.
Therefore, if they would disappear there would be a water deficit of up to 12% per year; 9% in wet season and up to 25% in dry weather. In another study, glaciologist Edson Ramirez determined that between 1956 and 2009, snowfall in the Tuni basin – where Little Janphumayo is found – lost 62% of its white cover while Condoriri was affected by 49%.