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Bolivia's Chacaltaya glacier is gone

In a May 5 article in the Miami Herald, John Enders discusses a recent discovery that a glacier in the Andes in Bolivia is gone due to climate change.

  • The 18,000-year-old Chacaltaya glacier has disappeared completely.
  • The glacier was part of a system that provides water to the city of La Paz and nearby areas, which have a combined population of nearly 2.5 million people.
  • For the first time, the amount of water used in La Paz and nearby regions will be greater than the amount of water that is replaced in the reservoirs. Water supply will eventually become a major political issue for leaders in the region.
  • It's very probable that other glaciers are disappearing faster than scientists previously thought.

Bolivia's Chacaltaya glacier is gone
By John Enders
Special to the Miami Herald
Monday May 4, 2009

CHACALTAYA, Bolivia -- -- If anyone needs a reminder of the on-the-ground impacts of global climate change, come to the Andes mountains in Bolivia. At 17,388 feet above sea level, Chacaltaya, an 18,000 year-old glacier that delighted thousands of visitors for decades, is gone, completely melted away as of some sad, undetermined moment early this year.

''Chacaltaya has disappeared. It no longer exists,'' said Dr. Edson Ramirez, head of an international team of scientists that has studied the glacier since 1991.

Chacaltaya (the name in Aymara means ''cold road'') began melting in the mid-1980s. Ramirez, the assistant director of the Institute of Hydraulics and Hydrology at the Universidad Mayor de San Andres in nearby La Paz, documented its disappearance in March.

Read the full article at the Miami Herald

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