Deglaciation in the Andean Region

2007/2008 Occasional Paper
By Painter, James

Studies predict there will be a dramatic decline, in the long-term, in water availability in the dry season in areas fed by glaciers. The accelerated melting of the tropical Andean glaciers is an undisputed fact. Dozens of articles in scientific journals have charted the demise of the ‘water towers of the world’ as a result mainly of rising air temperatures. Different modelling methods predict small increases in overall water availability in many areas fed by glaciers over the next 25-50 years due to increased glacial melt. However, the same models strongly suggest that water availability will diminish significantly during the months of the dry season, when the glaciers act as a type of buffer providing water for drinking, irrigation for agriculture, energy, and industry.

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