Peru has lost 56% of its glaciers

The glaciers of the South American country are another victim of the climate crisis

by Lorenzo Ciotti
Peru has lost 56% of its glaciers
© Brent Stirton / Staff Getty Images News

Climate change has claimed another victim: Peru has in fact lost 56.22% of its glaciers in the last 60 years, as reported by the Ministry of the Environment, on the occasion of the presentation of the second national census of glaciers.

The National Institute for Glacier Research has counted 2,084 in total, covering an area of 1,050.32 square kilometres. The Peruvian Ministry of the Environment has found that tropical glaciers, more than other types, show the impact of climate change in a dramatic and evident way.

Peru is home to 68% of the world's tropical glaciers: unfortunately this news once again underlines how the climate crisis and global warming are now irreversible. The reduction of glaciers in Peru, according to the ministry, has a serious impact on the water reserves that feed and support the various territories and their biodiversity.

The dramatic scenario in Peru

The report compared satellite images of glaciers between 1962 and 2020. “The country's glaciers in 18 mountain ranges have shrunk to 405 square miles. This means we have lost 56% of glaciated areas over this 58-year period "There are four mountain ranges that have very quickly lost about 80%, 90% or more than 90% of their glaciated areas, such as the Chila mountain range," said Jesus Gomez, Director of Glacier Research at the Ministry of 'Environment.

The country now has just 1,050 square kilometers of glacier cover left, an area that represents around 44% of that recorded in 1962, when the first glacier inventory was carried out. On some mountain ranges the glaciers have almost disappeared, including the Chila mountain range, which has lost 99% of its glacial surface.

It should be remembered that in 1970, when a huge ice cap coming from the snow-capped Huascarán, in the northern Andes, broke off after a 7.9 magnitude earthquake, hitting a reservoir and causing a mud avalanche that destroyed the city of Yungay, with over 20,000 deaths.

Precisely for this reason, Beatriz Fuentealva, director of Inagem, explained that the loss of glaciers threatens not only mountain ecosystems but also increases the risks for those who live downstream.