Glacier evolution in the tropical andes during the last decades of the 20th century: Chacaltaya, Bolivia, and Antizana, Ecuador

B. Francou, Edson Ramírez Rodriguez, B. Caceres, J. Mendoza

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73 Scopus citations

Abstract

Mass balance has been continuously monitored on Chacaltaya Glacier (16°S, Cordillera Real, Bolivia) since 1991, and on the Antizana Glacier 15 (0°, Ecuador) since 1995. In ablation areas, mass balance has been surveyed on a monthly scale, providing interesting details about the seasonal pattern in 2 contrasting tropical environments. Intermittent information about ice recession exists in both regions for the last 4 decades. The data point to a clear acceleration in glacier decline during this decade; ablation rates have been 3-5 times higher than during the former decades. Fluctuations measured before on 3 glaciers in northern Peru, allow the assumption that the rate at which the glaciers retreated in the tropical Andes increased in the late 1970s. The present situation is particularly dramatic for the small-sized glaciers (< 1 km2) and many such as Chacaltaya, could disappear in the next 10 years. As evidenced by the data collected, ablation increases significantly during the warm phases of ENSO (El Nino) and decreases during the cold phases (La Nina). Warm events becoming more frequent and intense since the late 1970s, it can be assumed that they have played an important role in the recent glacier decline in the central Andes, together with the global warming.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)416-422
Number of pages7
JournalAmbio
Volume29
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes

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