Global warming impact: Peru’s Pastoruri glacier recedes into two patches of ice

In just the past six months, Peru’s Pastoruri glacier in the Cordillera Blanca mountains has receded into two quickly vanishing patches of ice.

The Cordillera Blanca mountain range — the largest and highest tropical glacier chain in the world — contained 723 square kilometers of glacial ice 1970, diminished in size to 611 square kilometers by 1977, and lost another 15.5 percent of its ice mass in the ensuing 27 years.

Now the glaciers are vanishing before our eyes. This should give pause to those who doubt or deny the onslaught of global warming.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted the following for Peru in its 4th Assessment Report (Compilation – Source: WWF):

“Glacial retreat has already reached critical conditions, with a 22 percent reduction of total glacial area over the past 35 years.

Highly strained impact of freshwater supplies from 2015-2025 (12 percent reduction in the coastal zone where more than half of the people live). Southern Peru has seen reduced precipitation over recent decades while north-west Peru has experienced an increase. Hydropower is vulnerable to large-scale and persistent rainfall anomalies due to El Niño and La Niña.

Over the next decades Andean inter-tropical glaciers are very likely to disappear, affecting water availability and hydropower generation.

Recent shortening of cotton and mango growing cycles on the northern coast of Peru during El Niño because of increases in temperature and several fungal diseases in maize, potato, wheat and beans.

Climate change is likely to lead to salinisation and desertification of agricultural lands on the Peruvian coast. By 2050, desertification and salinisation will affect 50 percent of agricultural lands in Latin America and the Caribbean zone.

El Niño has been associated with some dermatological diseases, related to an increase in summer temperature, hyperthermia with no infectious cause has also been related to heatwaves, and sea surface temperature has been associated with the incidence of Carrion’s disease. Projected increase in the number of people exposed to vector borne diseases, such as dengue. Sea-level rise is very likely to affect the location of fish stocks in the south-east Pacific (e.g., in Peru and Chile).”

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