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Largest tropical glacier retreating at 200 feet per year in Peru

Largest tropical glacier retreating at 200 feet per year in Peru

Largest tropical glacier retreating at 200 feet per year in Peru
February 19, 2007

Peru’s largest glacier is melting rapidly and could complete disappear by 2012 says a glaciologist from Ohio State University.

Speaking at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Francisco last week, Dr. Lonnie Thompson said that Peru’s Qori Kalis glacier is melting at a rate of some 60 meters (200 feet) per year. Qori Kalis glacier is part of the Quelccaya Ice Cap, the largest body of ice in the tropics

Thompson, who has visited the Quelccaya ice cap at least 27 times since 1974, said the melting provides strong evidence of global warming. He notes that tropical glaciers around the world are in retreat.

“Kilimanjaro is behaving just like Mount Kenya and the Rwenzori, both also in Africa, as well as the glaciers in the Andes and the Himalayas ,” he said. “This widespread retreat of mountain glaciers may be our clearest evidence of global warming as they integrate many climate variables. Most importantly, they have no political agenda.”

The Qori Kalis Glacier, image courtesy of Lonnie Thompson.

Thompson said the loss of glaciers has implications for local populations that rely on these ice caps for regular water supplies.

“These glaciers are going to be gone,” he says. “If you a living at the base of one of these mountains, it doesn’t matter why they’re disappearing — only that they are. Millions of people are going to have to adapt to these changes, many of which will occur in some of the poorest regions of the globe.”

The Peruvian government estimates that the country’s glaciers have shrunk by more than 20% in the past 30 years. The disappearance of glaciers, which are the source for as much as 50 percent of the water in the upper Amazon, could have a significant impact on the rainforest ecosystem of the Amazon.

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This article is based on a news release from Ohio State University.

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