Melting Andean glaciers threaten water supply to 30 million people

Since 1970, glaciers in the Andes have lost 20% of their volume, says a study by Peru's National Meteorology and Hydrology Service, which adds lower altitude glaciers could disappear in the next 10 years, threatening the water supplies of 30 million people.

About 99% of the Chacaltaya glacier in Bolivia has disappeared since 1940, the Environment News Service reported World Bank engineer Walter Vergara as writing in a new report, "The Impacts of Climate Change in Latin America."

"The greenhouse gases are the main driver," Vergara said. "The scientific community has a consensus – this is manmade."

Large cities in the region depend on glacial runoffs for their water supply. Power supplies also will be affected as most countries in the
Andes are dependent on hydroelectric power generation. Vergara estimates that the economic consequences of glacier retreat are enormous, running into billions of dollars for the power sector alone.

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