Peru says country's glaciers shrank 40 pct in 4 decades from climate change

by Reuters
Wednesday, 15 October 2014 22:26 GMT

LIMA, Oct 15 (Reuters) - Climate change has shrunk Peruvian glaciers by 40 percent in the past four decades and the melt-off has spawned nearly 1,000 new high-altitude lakes since 1980, Peru's government said on Wednesday.

Nearly 90 percent of Peruvian glaciers are smaller than 1-square-kilometer, putting them at greater risk of disappearing in coming years, Peru's water authority said in an update of its glacier inventory from the 1970s.

Peru's 2,679 glaciers, spread over 19 snow-capped mountain ranges, are the source of the vast majority of the country's drinking water.

Climate change is expected to diminish fresh water supplies in fast-growing Peru, though glacial melt-off could boost availability in some watersheds in the short-term.

In 1970, at least 20,000 Peruvians were killed after an earthquake sent a glacier sliding into the highland town of Yungay.

Peru's water authority said that 996 lakes have emerged in the Andes since 1980, when it last conducted a count, bringing the new total to 8,355.

Peru is home to 70 percent of the world's tropical glaciers, which are especially sensitive to warming temperatures.

Peru will host the United Nations conference on global climate change in Lima in late November and December. (Reporting By Mitra Taj; Editing by Diane Craft)

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