Peru's Glaciers Melting, Decreasing Water Supply 20 Years Earlier Than Expected

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Pay attention, as this sort of thing could hit other mountainous areas that are dependent on glaciers for their water supply.

A new study in the Journal of Glaciology shows that the glaciers in Peru's Cordillera Blanca mountain range are melting so quickly that the water they supply to the arid region is being threatened 20-30 years earlier than expected.

Lead researcher Michel Baraer, from McGill University, told IPS News that the time needed for the region to adapt to the coming water shortages, previously thought to be decades off, "those years don't exist."

Baraer said that the glaciers feeding the Rio Santo watershed are now too small to maintain past flows of water. During the dry season water availability is expected to be 30% lower than historic levels.

In the 1930s glaciers in the Cordillera Blanca covered 850 square kilometers. Today they cover less than 600 sq km.

In a global context, the World Glacier Monitoring Service recently has said that 90% of the glaciers studied in its latest Glacier Mass Balance Bulletin are losing mass. In the Himalaya, 75% of the glaciers there are melting; the USGS fully puts the blame on this on global warming and not other factors.

Tags: Global Climate Change | Global Warming Effects | Peru