Bringing science and development together through news and analysis

  • Andes study shows it gets hot faster at high altitude

Shares

[RIO DE JANEIRO] Climate change will make temperatures to rise faster in high-altitude regions, causing mountain glaciers to melt and affecting communities that rely on glacier-fed water supplies, say researchers.

In an article published in Science last week (23 June), they examine some of ways in which climate is related to terrain in high regions. The researchers focus on the tropical Andes but say the situation is similar elsewhere in the tropics.

Scientists do not fully understand why temperatures are more sensitive to climate change at high altitudes. But the impacts of warming in the Andes are already clear: small glaciers are shrinking fast. In 1940 the volume of the Bolivian Chacaltaya Glacier was five million cubic kilometres; it is currently 0.3 million cubic kilometres.

The shrinkage will eventually result in water shortages, with agriculture and urban areas that rely on glacier-fed runoff and hydropower production most affected.

"Realistic plans must be developed to address different scenarios of water shortage," says Raymond Bradley, director of the Climate System Research Center at University of Massachusetts and one of the article's authors.

"This involves both engineering solutions, like ways of reducing water losses and improving delivery systems, as well as encouraging more efficient water use."

Bradley and his colleagues say the complex geography of the Andes means that detailed regional climate models are urgently needed.

Bradley is working in collaboration with the climate change programme at the Peruvian National Environmental Council. In July, the programme will start a second national initiative on climate change, which will include an assessment of water availability.

Link to full article in Science


Republish
We encourage you to republish this article online and in print, it’s free under our creative commons attribution license, but please follow some simple guidelines:
  1. You have to credit our authors.
  2. You have to credit SciDev.Net — where possible include our logo with a link back to the original article.
  3. You can simply run the first few lines of the article and then add: “Read the full article on SciDev.Net” containing a link back to the original article.
  4. If you want to also take images published in this story you will need to confirm with the original source if you're licensed to use them.
  5. The easiest way to get the article on your site is to embed the code below.
For more information view our media page and republishing guidelines.