Contribution of glacier runoff to water resources of La Paz city, Bolivia (16° S)

Alvaro Soruco, Christian Vincent, Antoine Rabatel, Bernard Francou, Emmanuel Thibert, Jean Emmanuel Sicart, Thomas Condom

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65 Scopus citations


The supply of glacier water to La Paz city, Bolivia, between 1963 and 2006 was assessed at annual and seasonal timescales based on the mass-balance quantification of 70 glaciers located within the drainage basins of La Paz. Glaciers contributed ∼15% of water resources at an annual scale (14% in the wet season, 27% in the dry season). Uncertainties in our estimation are related to the assumed constant precipitation (∼0.5% for ice-free areas and up to 6.5% for glaciated areas), the constant runoff coefficient (∼1%), the surface areas of the glaciers and catchments (∼5%) and the mean mass-balance uncertainty of the 21 glaciers used to obtain the mass balance of the 70 glaciers (12% of the total discharge). Despite the loss of 50% of the glacierized area during the study period, runoff at La Paz did not change significantly, showing that increase in ice melt rates compensated for reduction in the surface area of the glaciers. In the future, assuming complete disappearance of the glaciers and no change in precipitation, runoff should diminish by ∼12% at an annual scale, 9% during the wet season and 24% during the dry season.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-154
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of Glaciology
Issue number70
StatePublished - 2015

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© 2015, International Glaciology Society. All rights reserved.


  • Glacier hydrology
  • Glacier mass balance
  • Mountain glaciers
  • Tropical glaciology


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