posted at 19:50
Author Name: Héctor Velasco
Andes glaciers, ailing giants hit by climate change
The melting of the glaciers is threatening freshwater supplies in the Andes region and could cause the sea level to rise. Bolivar Caceres, one of the first to research the phenomenon in Ecuador, has watched the retreat of the country's glaciers, which sit atop seven snowy volcanoes. At the end of the 1980s, Ecuador had 92 square kilometers of glaciers. "What we still don't know is, how much has human activity accelerated the melting of the glaciers," said Caceres. The increase in global temperatures since the start of the 20th century - 0.8 degrees Celsius - has affected glaciers worldwide. In, Peru, glaciers have shrunk by more than 40 percent since 1970, giving birth to nearly 1,000 new lagoons, according to the national water authority. The phenomenon has even forced indigenous Peruvians to adapt an age-old Inca festival, the Qoyllur Rit'i, in which participants for countless generations had climbed glaciers to bring back blocks of ice. Melting glaciers could raise the sea level by 24 centimeters, as well as change the volume and composition of rivers, according to a 2011 study funded by IRD.

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