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Thu Oct 20, 2016, 11:13 AM

Bolivia’s fast-melting glaciers are leaving behind lakes that could cause catastrophic floods

Bolivia’s fast-melting glaciers are leaving behind lakes that could cause catastrophic floods
October 20, 2016 10.33am EDT


Bolivia’s glaciers have shrunk by more than 40% in the past few decades. This puts further pressure on an already stressed water supply, while the meltwater lakes left behind risk collapsing in sudden and catastrophic outburst floods.

That’s the conclusion of a new study of the country’s glaciers I conducted with colleagues based in the UK and Bolivia. Our results are published in the journal The Cryosphere.

Although Bolivia sits in the tropics, the Andes run through the country like a spine. Many mountains exceed 6,000 metres, among the highest outside of south and central Asia, meaning that glaciers can exist here. Indeed, Bolivia contains around 20% of the world’s so-called “tropical glaciers”.

But these glaciers are very sensitive to the effects of a warming climate. Our study shows that Bolivian glaciers have shrunk by around 43% since the mid-1980s – a period marked by increasing temperatures. We estimate that these glaciers will be much diminished by the end of the century.

More:
http://theconversation.com/bolivias-fast-melting-glaciers-are-leaving-behind-lakes-that-could-cause-catastrophic-floods-67396

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