Small glaciers disappearing in the tropical Andes: A case-study in Bolivia: Glaciar Chacaltaya (16°S)

E. Ramírez, B. Francou, P. Ribstein, M. Descloitres, R. Guérin, J. Mendoza, R. Gallaire, B. Pouyaud, E. Jordan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

124 Scopus citations

Abstract

Glaciar Chacaltaya is an easily accessible glacier located close to La Paz, Bolivia. Since 1991, information has been collected about the evolution of this glacier since the Little Ice Age, with a focus on the last six decades. The data considered in this study are monthly mass-balance measurements, yearly mappings of the surface topography and a map of the glacier bed given by ground-penetrating radar survey. A drastic shrinkage of ice has been observed since the early 1980s, with a mean deficit about 1 m a-1 w.e. From 1992 to 1998, the glacier lost 40% of its average thickness and two-thirds of its total volume, and the surface area was reduced by >40%. With a mean estimated equilibrium-line altitude lying above its upper reach, the glacier has been continuously exposed to a dominant ablation on the whole surface area. If the recent climatic conditions continue, a complete extinction of this glacier in the next 15 years can be expected. Glaciar Chacaltaya is representative of the glaciers of the Bolivian eastern cordilleras, 80% of which are small glaciers (<0.5 km2). A probable extinction of these glaciers in the near future could seriously affect the hydrological regime and the water resources of the high-elevation basins.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-194
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Glaciology
Volume47
Issue number157
DOIs
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Small glaciers disappearing in the tropical Andes: A case-study in Bolivia: Glaciar Chacaltaya (16°S)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this