Bolivia’s Tuni glacier will disappear soon, faster than expected

Llamas in a wetland in Tuni, near La Paz, Bolivia, photo: Reuters / David Mercado
Llamas in a wetland in Tuni, near La Paz, Bolivia, photo: Reuters / David Mercado

Bolivia’s Tuni glacier in the Andes Mountains is disappearing faster than initially anticipated, according to scientists from the Universidad Mayor de San Andrés (UMSA), who monitor the Tuni and other regional glaciers.

The scientists told Reuters the once stretched glacier had been reduced to just one square kilometer. They first thought the Tuni glacier would last till 2025, but now the scientists say it will disappear soon.

Though the glacier has been receding since the Little Ice Age, the fast-changing climate has accelerated the process, according to the Bolivian scientists.

“This entire sector was once covered with ice,” said Dr. Edson Ramírez, a university glaciologist. Now, only rocks remain, exposed for the first time in centuries. Heavy rains and drought have become more common and mountain snows are less predictable.

The mountain ice has fed rivers used for watering crops and supply at least 20% of the capital La Paz with water, the scientists say. Yola Choque, who grows quinoa in the town of Viacha, about 25 km from the city of La Paz, says his crop has suffered.

“It has not rained for months, I think it must be due to climate change, that is why Pachamama (Mother Earth) got angry and it does not rain,” he said in his native Aymara language.

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