You are on page 1of 19


In the Andean region of Latin America, from Colombia to Chile, the Andes, not only
historically forged admirable cultures and economies, but has also constituted for
centuries the largest and most reliable source of water for communities and
economies local cities and production activities in the valleys and coastal regions.
Particularly tropical and southern Andes, glaciers, glacier peri environment and
wetlands play a key role as a strategic reserve of water resources and water as a
source of recharge to the main catchments and rivers upon which towns, cities,
ecosystems and economies of the Southern Cone. Water security in several capitals,
including Quito, Lima, Santiago and La Paz, depend on water from the glaciers.

However, in recent decades, the increase in average temperature, reduced rainfall

and elevation of the isotherm as a result of climate change have accelerated melting
of Andean glaciers, reducing its volume and the narrowness and exacerbating
vulnerability water caused by global warming in the Andes in South America.

In addition to global warming, a phenomenon whose generation is not caused by the

Andean countries substantially accelerating the melting and retreat of glaciers in the
Andes, is also being caused by mining. The impact of mining on glaciers, currently
seen mainly in Chile and Peru, has recently been extended to Argentina, as a result
of the facilities that set the Binational Treaty Mining Cooperation between Chile and
Argentina for exploration and mining and thanks to all these activities and events are

The student
General Purpose
 Learn and know about the disappearance of glaciers in Peru
Specific Objectives
 Understand the main knowledge deglaciation.
 Identify possible solutions to prevent deglaciation in Peru.
Theoretical Framework



1.1. General Background

On our planet, 97.5% of the total surface water is salty, while only the
remaining 2.5% is fresh water. Of the total freshwater, almost 79% is in
permanent solid, in polar ice and glaciers. We can say, therefore, that the
glaciers and ice caps are the main reservoirs of fresh water on the planet.
Sweet liquid water, 20% is in deep aquifers (in some cases, over 2,000 feet
below sea level); and only the remaining 1% is surface accessible
freshwater, equivalent to only 0.025% of the water on the planet.

The glaciers persist over time by the balance between the water accumulated on top
(usually in the form of snow) and water melted by ablation at the bottom; or
evaporated by sublimation, and cold glaciers. Depending on the annual variations in
rainfall and temperature snowy, glacier mass increase in years with heavy snowfall
and relatively cool temperatures in summer, while volumes are reduced in dry and
very warm years. This balance gives them a central role in the regulation of
watersheds: in particularly wet years, water collects in these ice bodies; and seasons
with a strong water deficit, when water becomes more scarce, its melting lets protect
the balance. In fact, the snow on the Andes are the main food source of glacial ice
and frozen ground in the region; and in turn, these glaciers are the main source of
water for ecosystems and Andean communities.

The regions of the earth containing permanent ice and snow, both mainland and the
sea, is called the "cryosphere". It also includes frozen soils at high altitudes and
batch or continuous interstitial ice (permafrost). Includes areas of Antarctica, the
Arctic Ocean, Greenland, Northern Canada, Northern Siberia and the peaks of the
mountain ranges where temperatures remain below 0 ° C during most of the year.
The cryosphere plays a fundamental role in regulating the global climate system.
The snow and ice have a high albedo (reflectivity) 1, ie, reflect up to 90% of solar
radiation compared to the global average (31%). By reducing the criosphere, global
albedo decreases, so that more energy at the earth's surface and, consequently, the
temperature rises is absorbed.

In recent decades, the cryosphere is shrinking rapidly, motivating the public interest
and concern for their future. The causes of this situation are in the process of climate
change and the direct and indirect production of large enterprises such as mining
operations. Climate Change has decreased precipitation and nivales- -pluviales and
a progressive increase in temperature, reducing the ice accumulation and
accelerates melting, respectively. Synergistically, melting glaciers, decreasing the
overall albedo, fuels this trend. In Latin America, all studies predict changes in rainfall
patterns and the gradual disappearance of glaciers, which significantly affect water
availability for human consumption, agriculture and power generation.

Meanwhile, mining affects glaciers and ice removal materials warehouse dismissed
on these. Indirectly, exploration and mining, with the construction of roads, drilling
and the use of explosives, lifting generates dust that settles on glaciers, accelerating
its melting.

1.2. Agents responsible for impacts on glaciers

Global warming has been recognized as an unequivocal reality by the IPCC

(Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), which states: "Most of the observed
increase in global average temperatures since the mid-twentieth century is very likely
(greater than 90% ) to the observed increase in concentrations of greenhouse gases
(GHGs) 3 of anthropogenic origin. "4 Altering the balance of greenhouse gases,
mainly attributable to the burning of fossil fuels, tends to warm the surface of the
earth and of the lower layers of the atmosphere; some of the infrared radiation is
absorbed and re-emitted by greenhouse gases, warming the earth's surface and
oceans on a global and regional scale.

One of the effects of climate change are perceived today, is the disappearance of
the ice from the surface of the Earth in both polar caps and in many inland bodies of
ice. This phenomenon occurs steadily over the past decades and is expected to
acceleration occurs. As the temperature increases, the equilibrium line rises glaciers
(ie the altitude at which the ice gains and losses are offset), known as "0 ° C
isotherm." The isotherm 0 is the line joining the point of mean annual temperature
above which ice should not melt.

Representation of the isotherm isotherm 0 ° C or 0.

 The "greenhouse effect" is a phenomenon linked to the physical relationship

between the radiation from the Sun (predominantly short wave) and the
radiation emitted by the Earth (or long wave infrared). The atmosphere has a
great ability to absorb infrared radiation, thanks to the presence of gases of
"greenhouse effect" such as water vapor, carbon dioxide; and lesser amounts
of the gases found only traces of methane, nitrous oxide and tropospheric
ozone. The opacity of the atmosphere compared to infrared radiation, which
allows for transparency and absorption-with-that shortwave radiation is
radiation that "crosses" no major stumbling blocks, is what is commonly called
the greenhouse effect. Due to this effect the temperature of the Earth's
surface and the troposphere (lower atmosphere) remains well above the
planet would have an atmosphere without these gases. This dynamic balance
is what has allowed the development of natural ecosystems as we know them.

The current problem is that the change in temperature increases as you ascend, and
therefore, the isotherm has risen much more in high mountain regions with a
consequent increase of glacial retreat. Such is the case of the tropical and
subtropical Andes. This phenomenon is illustrated in the graph below.
Temperature, altitude and latitude

One of the global consequences of this phenomenon is the rise in sea levels due to
the incorporation of the large amount of water from the melting ice and warming
positive feedback for loss of reflective surface on Earth. The IPCC warns that it will
experience "very high increases in sea level resulting from widespread melting of ice
sheets in Greenland and West Antarctic" because "there is medium confidence that
happen at least partial melting of the ice sheets Greenland and possibly the West
Antarctic for a period of time ranging from centuries to millennia, which would cause
an increase in global average temperature of 1-4 ° C (relative to 1990-2000), and
increased sea level 4-6 m or more. The complete melting of the Greenland ice sheet
and the West Antarctic contribute to sea level rise of up to 7 m and about 5 m,

Subsequent to the publication of this report inquiries account for a more critical
situation. According to observations in the summers of 2007 and 2008, the process
of disappearance of ice in the Arctic progresses much faster than expected.

According to research from Harvard University and the Snow and Ice Data Center
(NSIDC), the loss of these ice is occurring at a rate that is ahead by 30 or more years
for the projections of the IPCC (2007). If so, the Arctic could be completely ice-free
in summer within ten years.7. As happened with that observed in the Arctic, the
melting process in Antarctica in recent years proved to be faster than predicted in
the IPCC projections. Recent studies project that by the end of this century, the
change in the mass of ice in Greenland and Antarctica will generate a 1.4 meter rise
in sea level, well above the 0.59 estimated in the 2078 meters.
In Figure we can see the close correlation between increased air temperature on the
planet and the contribution of glaciers to sea level rise, due to melting.

Contribution of glaciers to sea level rise

1.3. Implications for watershed and population

In ecosystem terms, the disappearance of the ice bodies produce the gradual
reduction and increased interannual variability in watersheds feeding nivo-glacial.
Extraordinary reserves of fresh water will be lost and irreparably alter the water
balance of the basin.

Meanwhile, rising sea levels, as the ice disappears, resulting in loss of freshwater
sources to the extent that seawater reaches certain inland areas, making contact
with aquifers.

Additionally, the gradual disappearance of frozen ground (permafrost), present in

very cold or periglacial regions (circumpolar areas of Canada, Alaska, Russia and
northern Europe as well as in the mountains), increase soil instability and avalanches
in mountainous regions. In these soils staying methane, a powerful greenhouse
gases that will be released by melting ice that contains it.

Another risk associated with the loss of polar ice mass is increasing the flow of fresh
water from the melting of the Arctic, which could influence the North Atlantic
thermohaline circulation and, therefore, in the Gulf Stream which, among other
phenomena, the maintenance of a relatively mild climate in Europe. An increase in
the flow of fresh water into the North Atlantic area, it could lead to a significant
weakening or complete collapse of the thermohaline circulation. This would trigger
dramatic changes in the global climate.
The alteration of watersheds that depend on glaciers will affect the amount of water
available for human consumption, agriculture and hydropower. In the coming
decades, the scarcity or seasonal lack of water will affect about 1,000 million people

The gradual increase in sea level will cause forced migration who live in vulnerable
areas; will imply losses in infrastructure in coastal areas, and generate an increased
vulnerability to weather events in low coastal areas and deltas. A sea level rise of
1.5 meters would force them to migrate to 17 million people in Bangladesh alone.

Finally, dramatic changes in the global climate as a result of the synergy between
increased GHG and phenomena that triggers melting cryosphere will have
unpredictable consequences on habitats, practice and development of the entire
population; still the people already living in situations of marginalization and
vulnerability, the most affected by these phenomena. This was evidenced by the
millions of victims totaling extreme events such as increased rainfall and subsequent
flooding in large areas (Pakistan, Brazil); or sustained drought and reduced water
availability (Andean region); to name a few.

1.4. Actions and proposals for the protection of glaciers and climate

Recently glaciers were involved in the controversy over the legitimacy of IGCC for
probable uncorrected typo in the fourth report. According to the text, the Himalayan
glaciers would disappear by the year 2035.

It is no coincidence that this target has been chosen in a report of thousands of

pages. The evolution of each glacier requires a special study of mass and energy
balances to calculate how long it takes to melt, plus assumptions about the evolution
of the climate in that period. Although these investigations are just beginning in most
of the world, since all studies show unequivocally Oerlemans including current
temperatures inexorably lead to a deepening of glacial retreat.
Evolution of glacier retreat as rising temperatures

This was also demonstrated by Thompson in 2006 to prove that now is an abrupt
climate shift similar to those in the Middle Holocene (5200 years ago) conditions.
When the balance of glaciers current temperatures is established, tropical glaciers,
over 70% of which is in Peru, have disappeared. Similar conclusions were presented
at the COP 16 in Cancun this year by UNEP report on the situation in the mountains,
with emphasis on the Himalaya.

In this context of pressure for results under uncertainty, it is not surprising that the
research community has taken a leadership position in the debate on public policy.
In our region gives evidence of this statement Manizales in 2008.16 In it, scientists
from all over Latin America proposed an advanced research agenda and a public
commitment to link climate policy with the defense of the glaciers.

A specific goal of this agenda is the development of national strategies glaciers,

wherein said strategy for Chile emerges. Aim to have a quantitative inventory of all
the glaciers in the region, so that it is possible to define its dynamics in terms of
climate change accurately. The proposed hierarchy there, including mass and
energy balances, should be extended to all countries in the region, if desired adopt
legislation and public policy.

This despite the current scenario, stabilization (and even decrease) in average
temperatures this century is not out of reach. Recently, an updated discussion of the
limits of this transition in terms of limiting temperatures and the trajectory of the
climate system to which we can aspire to minimize risks and impactos17. The limit
of 1.5 ° C and even longer-term goal of stabilizing no further than 1ºC goals are
compatible with environmental integrity, among which must be maximizing the
preservation of the cryosphere. These limits were adopted at the meeting in
Cochabamba in 2010; and although they have not been accepted in the negotiations
of the Framework Convention on Climate Change, as agreed in Cancun in 2015 will
be reviewed every goal.

As glaciers one of the most sensitive indicators of climate change, to achieve its
preservation alienate risk phenomena of positive feedback that would lead the world
to new states of the climate system that are accepted as dangerous as the
disappearance of Arctic ice masses Greenland and West Antarctica. The shorter
heating period of this transition will be less damage and the risk of unleashing global
irreversible processes.

In addition to global considerations, the current impacts and future risks in the
Andean region justify for themselves the goal of early reversal of glacial retreat.
Adaptation should be acceptable for what transition entails inevitable; and not as a
compensation mechanism itself a cost-benefit approach.

The Andean region should take this claim as a priority in its global climate policy and
adapt national policies to that end. These include the recognition of the rights of
those affected and victims of climate change and their effective participation in
adaptation policies and objectives of national mitigation consistent with the total
elimination of anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases.

The actions that correspond to the national and regional levels can not be postponed
due to delays in the negotiations to establish principles for climate justice among
nations. This is also one of the early Quitipaya: we all have duties to perform with
Mother Earth.

2.1. Characteristics and location of the Andean glaciers in Peru

Peru has the largest share of the world's tropical glaciers (Mercer,
1967; Kinzl, 1968), with an average minimum altitude of 4800 m, and
a maximum of 6768 meters.

Andes in Peru

These glaciers are distributed throughout its territory in 20 different mountain

regions, which together cover an area of 2600 km2. As shown in the following
Areas of glaciers in Peru

The densest geographic region in the Cordillera Blanca glaciers is located in the
northern part of the western Andes. It extends for about 200 km and has a total of
772 glaciers individually recognizable, 8 of the 12 most extensive glaciers of Peru,
and 5 peaks over 5,500 meters, several of which are considered among the most
beautiful, for mountaineers and photographers (Alpinismos, 1966 ).
white Mountains

The glacier is the largest expanse Quelccaya, which is located in the Cordillera
Vilcanota, in the southern Andes. It has a diameter of 17 km and covers an area of
54 km2. The following table provides a description of these and other glaciers in the
Major glaciers in Peru

Huascaran glacier Photo

Glacier Photo Alpamayo

Glacier Photo Coropuna

Historically, glaciers have been the cornerstones of agricultural activity and therefore
of life in communities and villages, both onshore and in the Andes; because
increased meltwater flows of rivers especially in times of higher temperatures, when
rainfall in the middle and lower areas of the valley becomes scarce.

Tourism is now one of the activities most associated with glaciers, because their
presence allows mountain activities, guided tours and develop hospitality,
gastronomy and crafts. Meltwater Also take advantage of its appeal for boating and

Meltwater for power generation in parts of the country and further downstream
hydropower plants is also being used, have installed water treatment plants for
human consumption, which exploit the regulated flows that possess these basins.

2.2. Impacts of economic activities on glaciers

Paradoxically, the current loss of glacier area by increasing its rate of melting, is
played by different economic actors (except for tourism) and the emergence of new
and better opportunities for development, because they assume that it would now
be possible to irrigate larger areas ground or switch to crops that demand more
water; increase the production of electricity or ensure greater availability of its
increasing demand; supply drinking water to more people or increase the availability
of drinking water in the currently underserved populations; and even meet the needs
of the future demand of a population which is becoming bigger and bigger.

This "opportunistic" view of melting glaciers is shared by the majority of those living
on the coast (70% of the urban population), for almost everyone with agro-export
business (90% of the plantations are in coast) and even by many academics and
entrepreneurs who qualify as "intolerable", not the disappearance of glaciers, but
"this water is lost" in the Pacific Ocean.

Meanwhile, in the tourism sector faced the challenges of adaptation, but, confident
that the glaciers that lie above 5500 meters, the main tourist attraction, will remain

Thus traders avoid consider analysis of the linkages between the deglaciation and
rising global temperatures, which can project a continued retreat of glaciers until its
demise. His vision focuses the economy associated with glaciers piecemeal and
short-term does not take into account the interaction between the various economic
and social sectors, and the particular responsibilities of the different actors in the
process of melting ice, and the cumulative impacts of this phenomenon on
ecosystems and communities, thus, end up jeopardizing their own existence.

2.3. Legislative framework and policies for the protection of glaciers

and climate change showdown

In Peru there is no particular or special regulatory framework for glaciers, ridges or

mountaintops, so they would be applicable to the general laws of the republic, such
as: General Environmental Law (Law 28611, 13/10 / 2005), Water Resources Law
(Law 29338, 30/03/2009) and the Environmental Regulations for Mining Exploration
Activities (Supreme Decree 020-2008-EM, 02/04/2008). However, each of these
laws is insufficient for addressing as complex as the deglaciation and the effects of
climate change on populations and ecosystems, especially because these
phenomena involving multiple actors, each with a different dynamic .

Unfortunately, the years 2010 and 2011 is an election year for Peru, that is, there is
too much uncertainty about the immediate political future to try to boost significant
improvements or changes in the existing legal system. At present, it is necessary to
wait for the reorganization of the political forces to assess what, how and who to
work with new legislative initiatives.

2.4. Actions and proposals

In this context, was born some years ago in Peru, the Citizens' Movement Against
Climate Change (MOCICC) due to the urgency of generating a broad and diverse
movement in defense of life on Earth, now threatened by global climate change.
The Citizen Movement Against Climate Change

The MOCCIC promotes and implements advocacy strategies and regional and
national monitoring on policies relating to climate change, sensitizes the various
actors of civil society, promote new lifestyles and reflect the ancient wisdom of
various peoples, provides in capacity building in civil society and implements active
joint strategies for action at local, regional, national and global level.

The MOCICC is aware of the importance of adding the maximum effort among
Peruvians to address both the causes and effects of climate change and prepare to
adapt to its economic and cultural impact, in that sense, the most important actions
to far were: civil society and make contributions to the National Environmental Policy,
the National Climate Change Strategy and generating awareness and education

 Mercer, J.H., 1967, Glaciers of Peru, in Southern Hemisphere glacier atlas:

U.S. Army Natick Laboratories, Earth Sciences Laboratory, Series ES-33,
Technical Report 67-76-ES, p. 23-64.
 Kinzl, Hans, 1968, La glaciación actual y Pleistocénica en los Andes
Centrales [The present and Pleistocene glaciation in the Central Andes]:
Bonn, Colloquium geographicum, v. 9, p. 77-90.
 ·Morales-Arnao, Benjamín, Glaciers of South America -- Glaciers of Perú,
U.S. Geological Survey, Professional Paper 1386-I-4
 Movimiento Ciudadano Frente al Cambio Climático, disponible en :