Peru’s Quelccaya glacier could disappear within 10 years, specialist says

Peru’s Quelccaya glacier, the largest in the tropics, could disappear within 10 years, Jose Machare, a climate change specialist at Peru’s Geological Society told state news agency Andina.

Studies of Quelccaya during the last 30 years have found the glacier retreated at an average rate of 6 meters per year during the first 15 years and 60 meters per year in the last 15. This year, it is expected to retreat 150 meters as a result of an unprecedented increase in global temperatures.

“Right now we are in a period of warming, the temperature will become warmer than the normal curve until we begin a new glaciation period,” Machare said. “This is caused by various human factors.”

The Quelccaya glacier is 44km squared and is located 5,500m above sea level in the Vilcanota mountain range in Cuzco department.

Peru is home to some 70 percent of Earth’s tropical glaciers. The country’s glaciers, which feed hydroelectric plants and provide drinking water to Lima, the world’s second largest desert city after Cairo, Egypt, are in the process of accelerated meltdown due to global warming.

According to Peru’s National Resources Institute, or Inrena, the Andes Mountains have lost at least 22 percent of their glacier area since 1970.

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