Peru glaciers were exterminated due to climate change, experiencing a staggering 56% reduction over the past six decades, per a government inventory disclosed on Wednesday. The report underscores the alarming impact of climate change on the nation’s delicate ecosystems. This revelation highlights the urgent need for global attention and concerted efforts to address the ongoing environmental crisis.
Peru, home to an impressive 68% of the world’s tropical glaciers, has fallen victim to rising temperatures, rapidly melting these vital ice formations. The consequences are not only limited to glacial loss but also extend to creating new mountain lagoons, posing a severe risk of overflow and flooding, warns the National Institute of Research of Mountain Glaciers and Ecosystems.
Utilizing satellite imagery until 2020, the report delineates a significant decline in Peru’s glaciers exterminated due to climate change. In 1962, the country boasted 2,399 square kilometres of ice and snow, starkly contrasting the current coverage of 1,050 square kilometres by 2,084 glaciers.
“In four years, from 2016 to 2020, Peru has lost almost 6% of these high mountain glaciers,” highlighted Beatriz Fuentealba, the institute director, speaking from the Ancash region, which has witnessed the disappearance of many glaciers.
A distressing aspect highlighted in the inventory is the formation of 164 new lagoons or those in the formation process in the last four years. The total number of glacial lagoons has surged to 8,466, covering approximately 1,081 square kilometres. Jesus Gomez, the director of glacier research at the Ministry of the Environment, expressed concern about the potential dangers of these new lagoons, emphasizing the risk of overflowing and flooding, contributing to the alarming narrative of Peru glaciers being exterminated due to climate change.
The report further notes that these new lagoons at altitudes between 4,000 and 5,000 meters present an imminent threat. Nearly all Peru’s tropical glaciers are positioned above 6,000 meters above sea level. The ramifications of these environmental changes are extensive, with almost 20 million Peruvians directly or indirectly reliant on water derived from glaciers.
Environment Minister Albina Ruiz emphasized the gravity of the situation, stating, “This means that we have lost more than half of our water reserves.” She acknowledged the impact of glacial retreats on the natural mountain ecosystem. She called for urgent action, advocating for reduced pollution, increased green spaces, and a collective recognition of the vital role played by mountains in sustaining life.
As the situation unfolds, Peru faces the challenge of adapting to a changing landscape, urging a global response to mitigate the impacts of climate change on vulnerable ecosystems.