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THE

ANDEAN
GLACIER AND

WATER
ATLAS
THE IMPACT OF GLACIER RETREAT
ON WATER RESOURCES

UNESCO
Publishing
United Nations
Educational, Scientific and
Cultural Organization A Centre collaborating with UNEP
From the shade of an adobe house overlooking Peru’s Santa
River, Jimmy Melgarejo squints at the dual peaks of Mount
Huascarán looming against a cloudless sky. “The snow keeps
getting farther away,” says Melgarejo, a farmer worried about
his livelihood. “It’s moving up, little by little. When the snow
disappears, there will be no water.”

(from Fraser 2012)


Published by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Editors
Organization (UNESCO), 7, place de Fontenoy, 75352 Paris 07 SP, France, and Tina Schoolmeester, GRID-Arendal, Norway
GRID-Arendal, P.O. Box 183, N-4802 Arendal, Norway Koen Verbist, UNESCO-IHP, France

© UNESCO and GRID-Arendal, 2018 Authors


UNESCO ISBN 978-92-3-100286-1 Kari Synnøve Johansen, GRID-Arendal, Norway
GRID-Arendal ISBN 978-82-7701-177-6 Björn Alfthan, GRID-Arendal, Norway
Elaine Baker, GRID-Arendal, Norway
Malena Hesping, GRID-Arendal, Norway
Tina Schoolmeester, GRID-Arendal, Norway
Koen Verbist, UNESCO-IHP, France

This publication is available in Open Access under the Attribution-ShareAlike Contributing Authors
3.0 IGO (CC-BY-SA 3.0 IGO) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/ Wouter Buytaert, Imperial College of London, United Kingdom
by-sa/3.0/igo/). By using the content of this publication, the users accept to Gino Casassa, Geoestudios and Universidad de Magallanes, Chile
be bound by the terms of use of the UNESCO Open Access Repository (http:// Raquel Guaite Llabata, Peru
www.unesco.org/open-access/terms-use-ccbysa-en) and the Commonwealth Rodolfo Iturraspe, Universidad Nacional de Tierra del Fuego, Argentina
of Learning’s Open Access Repository (http:oasis.col.org). Anil Mishra, UNESCO-IHP, France
Elma Montaña, Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research (IAI), Uruguay
The present license applies exclusively to the text content of the publication. Andres Rivera, Centro de Estudios Científicos, Chile
For the use of any material not clearly identified as belonging to UNESCO Lucas Ruiz, Instituto Argentino de Nivología, Glaciología y Ciencias
or GRID Arendal, prior permission shall be requested from: publication. Ambientales, Argentina
copyright@unesco.org or UNESCO Publishing, 7, place de Fontenoy, 75352 Wilson Suarez Alayza, SENAMHI, Peru
Paris 07 SP France, or GRID-Arendal, P.O. Box 183, N-4802 Arendal, Norway. Mathias Vuille, University at Albany, State University of New York, USA

The designations employed and the presentation of material throughout this Other contributions
publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the Marina Antonova, GRID-Arendal, Norway
part of UNESCO or GRID-Arendal concerning the legal status of any country, Barbara Avila, UNESCO-IHP, France
territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its Louis Dorémus, GRID-Arendal, Norway
frontiers or boundaries. Hanna Lønning Gjerdi, GRID-Arendal, Norway
Marie-Claire Hugon, UNESCO-IHP, France
Any ideas and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors Laura Puikkonen, GRID-Arendal, Norway
and do not necessarily reflect the views of UNESCO or GRID-Arendal and do Laura Wallace, UNESCO-IHP, France
not commit these organizations. Levi Westerveld, GRID-Arendal, Norway

External Reviewers
Mathias Vuille, University at Albany, State University of New York, USA
Bolivar Caceres, Instituto Nacional Meteorologia e Hidrología, Ecuador
United Nations International
Educational, Scientific and Hydrological
Cultural Organization Programme Layout
GRID-Arendal
The Andean Glacier and Water Atlas is developed in the framework of the project
“The Impact of Glacier Retreat in the Andes: International Multidsciplinary Copy-editing
Network for Adaptation Strategies”, executed by UNESCO's International Strategic Agenda, London
Hydrological Programme (IHP) and supported by UNESCO/Flanders Fund-in-
Trust for the support of UNESCO's activities in the field of Science (FUST). Cartography
Riccardo Pravettoni, GEO-GRAPHICS
Recommended citation: Schoolmeester, T., Johansen, K.S., Alfthan, B., Baker,
E., Hesping, M. and Verbist, K., 2018. The Andean Glacier and Water Atlas – Front cover photo: iStock/naphtalina
The Impact of Glacier Retreat on Water Resources. UNESCO and GRID-Arendal. Back cover photo: iStock/cta88
THE

ANDEAN
GLACIER AND

WATER
ATLAS
THE IMPACT OF GLACIER RETREAT
ON WATER RESOURCES

7 Preface 14 Peaks, plateaus and valleys 70 Policy recommendations


8 Key messages 25 Living in the Andes 72 References
10 Policy recommendations 32 A changing climate
12 Introduction 41 Shrinking ice
52 Accelerated glacier melt
62 Addressing water challenges
6
Preface
Achieving and maintaining water security in vulnerable areas, such Several Andean countries have initiated processes to protect and
as mountainous and arid regions, is challenging. Yet, projections conserve glaciers and their strategic mountain water reserves.
of increased climate variability indicate the situation is only likely These initiatives provide concrete examples of how to tackle the
to become more complex. To tackle this situation, it is essential to challenges considering the local context.
develop mitigation and adaptation policies based on the scientific
understanding of climate impacts on water security. In the Andean The Atlas provides specific recommendations on addressing the
region, water scarcity and uncertainty are the main issues; many issues of water vulnerability and security. This includes improving
Andean valleys are seasonally dry and depend on glacier runoff to the understanding of climate change impacts on communities, in
support the people, energy, food production and ecosystems. order to strengthen local capacities to develop specific adaptation
responses. Continued urbanisation in conjunction with reduced
The Andean Glacier and Water Atlas has been compiled as part of glacier runoff will pose additional challenges to mountain cities
a multidisciplinary project initiated by UNESCO and aided by the that are currently dependent on glaciers for their water supply.
Flanders Fund in Trust (FUST). The project, “The Impact of Glacier Improved water governance will be key to ensuring that competing
Retreat in the Andes: International Multidisciplinary Network water uses are adequately managed under the additional pressure.
for Adaptation Strategies”, aims to improve understanding of
vulnerabilities, opportunities and potential for adaptation to The International Hydrological Programme of UNESCO will
change, particularly climate change. continue its support to the Andean countries, as part of its
Eight Phase (2014–2021) “Water Security – Responses to Local,
The Atlas illustrates the significant reduction in glacier mass Regional, and Global Challenges”, and continue to strengthen
happening throughout the region. It quantifies the contribution the UNESCO working group on snow and ice in Latin America. The
of glaciers to drinking water supplies in cities, agriculture, atlas also directly supports the implementation of the Sustainable
hydropower and industries, such as mining. The findings highlight Development Goals (SDGs), the Paris Agreement and the Sendai
the impact of shrinking glaciers on water availability and security Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.
for millions of people.
We would like to thank the Government of Flanders and the Royal
The current reliance on glacier melt coupled with the measurable Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment for providing
changes being observed mean a strengthened science-policy financial support for the publication, and all the stakeholders
dialogue is needed. This kind of discussion would raise awareness involved, including scientists, governmental agencies, politicians,
regarding the impact of retreating glaciers on water resources. participating countries and the broader IHP Water Family.

Blanca Jiménez-Cisneros
Director, Water Sciences Division Secretary
International Hydrological Programme (IHP) UNESCO

Peter Harris
Managing Director
GRID-Arendal

7
Key messages
Temperatures have been rising across the Andes. Future precipitation trends are difficult to
There is evidence of altitude amplification, with estimate, with projections revealing a mixed
temperatures rising faster at higher altitudes. picture across the Andes region.

The annual mean temperature in most countries of the Tropical Most models predict an increase in precipitation during the wet
Andes (Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru) increased by season and a decrease during the dry season in the tropical Andes,
approximately 0.8°C during the 20th century. The altitude of the as well as over the Altiplano region. Under the IPCC high emission
freezing level height has also risen by an approximate average scenario, by 2100, precipitation is projected to increase along the
of 45 m across the region. In the Andean mountains of Chile and coastal regions of Colombia and Ecuador and in some places along
Argentina, temperatures have risen between 0.2 and 0.3 per the eastern Andes, and south of the equator. However, by 2100,
decade since the mid-1970s. precipitation is projected to decrease in the southern (tropical)
Andes, including the Altiplano regions; which would lead to
Temperatures could increase further in the increased drought. Important reductions in precipitation of more
Tropical Andes by between 2°C and 5°C by the than 30 per cent are expected in the southern Andes, particularly
end of the 21st century, according to certain in Chile and Argentina.
projections. In the Southern Andes temperatures
could increase by between 1°C and 7°C. Glaciers are retreating in every Andean country.
The most rapid retreat is in the Tropical Andes,
The degree of warming is also likely to be greater at higher in lower-altitude glaciers.
elevations. Much larger inter-annual temperature variability and
a higher likelihood of extremely hot years can also be expected. Most glaciers have been retreating around the world since
Even the coldest years could become much warmer than the the beginning of the 18th century. This retreat is linked to
warmest years observed today. anthropogenic climate change. The pace of retreat and loss of
certain glaciers is most rapid within the Tropical Andes.
Past precipitation trends are less clear, but there
are indications snow cover has been decreasing In Venezuela, just one glacier remains, and it is predicted to
over the past few decades. disappear by 2021. In Colombia, rapid retreat has occurred and
has accelerated over the past few decades. By the middle of this
Precipitation trends are difficult to identify in the Andes due to century it is likely that only the largest glaciers on the highest
the lack of reliable long-term observational records. Annual peaks will remain.
precipitation is already highly variable because it depends on
location and is influenced by El Niño events. However, snow cover Ecuador’s glaciers are restricted to the country’s highest peaks
has seen an overall decreasing trend in the past two decades, in and within two mountain ranges, but its glacial loss has been
line with rising temperatures. This has been especially significant dramatic over the past 50 to 60 years. Peru hosts the largest
in the Central Andes and on the eastern flanks. In the Southern number of tropical glaciers on the continent. Of two major glacial
Andes, the snow line is also moving upwards which is increasing systems in the country, the Cordillera Blanca glaciers have been
the risk of flash floods downstream. retreating rapidly over the past few decades, although there have
been some brief periods of advancement. Rapid glacial retreat
has also been observed on Bolivia’s glaciers since the 1980s, with
some glaciers having lost two-thirds or more of their mass. Many
of the glaciers, with an area of less than 0.5 km2, are so small that
they are even more vulnerable to glacial retreat.

In Chile and Argentina, most glaciers are retreating, and the rate
has increased over the last decades. Large, low-lying, tidewater
and freshwater glaciers in Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego have
experienced rapid retreat. Although less rapid, retreat is also
occurring in glaciers at higher altitudes. A few glaciers are still
advancing due to local ice dynamics.

8
During drought years, glacial meltwater becomes
critically important for certain areas.

Glacial meltwater can be extremely important, especially within


the Tropical Andean region, which is highly populated and
includes some major population centres. During a normal year,
glacier meltwater contributes to around 5 per cent of the available
water supply in Quito, Ecuador, 61 per cent in La Paz, Bolivia, and
67 per cent in Huaraz, Peru. During a drought year, the maximum
monthly contribution of water from glaciers increases to around
15 per cent in Quito, 85 per cent in La Paz and 91 per cent
in Huaraz.

‘Peak water’ has been reached for many glaciers


in the Andes, meaning that meltwater runoff will
continue to decrease in the future.

As glaciers melt, they provide meltwater. Peak water refers to a


point in time where meltwater runoff is at its maximum. For many
glaciers in the Tropical Andes, ‘peak water’ was reached in the
1980s and these glaciers have been contributing less and less
meltwater over time. For many glaciers, peak water has either
already recently been reached or it will be within the coming 20
Glacier retreat and volume loss is ‘locked in’ and years. Future glacier shrinkage will lead to a long-term reduction
will continue in the future across the whole of the in dry season river discharge from glacierised catchments. The
Andes, leading to significant changes in hydrology. highest impacts will be felt in areas where meltwater significantly
This will impact communities and ecosystems. contributes to the available water supply, especially during the
dry season. Consequently, these are the areas with the greatest
The extent of loss depends on which IPCC warming scenarios needs to adapt to a reduced availability of glacial meltwater.
are used for projections. Even under the least warming scenario,
glaciers will continue to shrink. The most dramatic retreat and Climate change adaptation is essential
volume loss is expected for tropical glaciers, where even under for healthy societies and ecosystems.
moderate warming scenarios, volume losses of between 78 and
97 per cent are projected by the end of the century. In the Southern The Andean region is undergoing significant climatic changes that
Andes glaciers are expected to further decrease and the rate of will have far-reaching consequences for the environment, and the
loss is expected to accelerate. lives of many Andean people. Communities will need to tackle the
challenges resulting from climate change, such as water scarcity,
Glacial meltwater is a critical water source at unpredictable water availability, and flooding and other climate
certain times of the year for millions of people hazards. Adaptation needs to be based on careful analysis of
– most notably for those living in the Andean the underlying socio-economic factors of vulnerability to climate
highlands of Bolivia, Chile and Peru. change in order to avoid maladaptation.

However, its importance is seasonal and not uniform across the


Andes, with people in certain regions being more reliant on it
than others. The Andean highlands of Bolivia, northern Chile and
southern Peru are hotspots of water stress, because of their semi-
arid climate and marked seasonality. With limited hydrological
storage capacity in the small upland catchment flows, glacier
meltwater has so far acted as an important buffer mechanism.

9
Policy recommendations
Increase support for science-based Implement preventive measures for
policy decisions natural hazards related to glaciers

The interaction between science and policy is often weak and For risks from Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs), adaptation
hampered by the definition of common goals and objectives. Joint measures should focus on implementation of preventive measures,
problem framing and more effective interaction between social and including for example creating hazard maps, regulating building
physical climate and impact sciences is needed. Grounding policy codes and land use planning, and creating early warning systems,
in science will help to effectively allocate resources to address the complemented by comprehensive education and awareness
environmental challenges caused by climate change in the Andes programmes (Vuille et al. 2018).
and the associated threat to lives and livelihood. There is a particular
need to consider local and indigenous knowledge systems as a Develop climate
valuable source of information for sustainable management of fragile services
mountain ecosystems. By ensuring that traditional knowledge and
sciences co-produce information for policymaking, enables these There is a need for targeted climate services for water resources
livelihoods to address the challenges posed by climate change management, to ensure that monitoring and early warning
impacts. Bottom-up and top-down approaches have the opportunity information reaches the water users in an appropriate format and
to meet and create a stronger outcome (Huggel et al. 2015). timing. This requires a better understanding of the real needs
of local stakeholders, based upon a bottom-up assessment of
Map the current and projected impacts of water security vulnerabilities, in order to tailor specific climate
climate change on Andean glaciers services to inform current and future hazards. The penetration of
cell phones and smart phones in even the most remote locations
Many aspects of future climate change remain highly uncertain, provides a novel pathway for dissemination to and interaction
due to old and inadequate climatic and glaciological monitoring with local water users.
networks. Improved data-gathering infrastructure is needed to
monitor climate change at the elevation of the glacier, including Increase understanding of water demand
a network of automated weather stations at high elevations and and use – now and in the future
improved on-site monitoring. Equally, better inclusion of these
data with advanced remote sensing and geographic information Recognising that water usage is impacted by societal forces and
system applications is urgently required. On the modelling trends, further in-depth research and understanding is needed of
front, more detailed climate change projections, relying on a water demand and use trends. Population dynamics, urbanisation,
variety of models and several different emissions scenarios are changing consumer patterns, demands for certain goods within
needed, particularly considering that climate change impacts are international markets and the development trajectories of
disproportionately high in mountains. different sectors, including agriculture, mining and hydropower all
influence water usage. Furthermore, water auditing and efficiency
tools should be applied to each sector to determine where water
conservation measures can be made. With the irreversible loss
of many glaciers that will occur in the Andes, irrespective of any
current or future mitigation, scenario development/planning
should be undertaken for water resource management in order to
anticipate and deal with future uncertainty and scarcity.

Implement good water


governance

The importance of water governance should be recognized at


the highest level of decision-making. Integrated water resource
management (IWRM) approaches should continue to be developed
across the Andes countries, while integrating new information
about projected climate impacts and trends.

10
Promote mechanisms for
adaptation learning

Long-term monitoring and evaluation of adaptation projects and


initiatives should be undertaken in order to measure adaptation
actions according to a pre-defined set of criteria, which could
include effectiveness, efficiency, equity, inherent flexibility,
acceptability and robustness. Platforms and mechanisms should
be developed which allow for experiences and lessons to be
shared between and within countries and across a wide diversity
of stakeholders (including municipalities, rural communities,
civil society, private sector, national governments etc.). The
Climate Risk Informed Decision Analysis (CRIDA) provides such a
framework to develop adaptation pathways under climate change
uncertainty (UNESCO and ICIWaRM, 2018).

Finance adaptation
measures

The most effective mechanism for responding to changes in


water availability is improving adaptive capacity, including
training of farmers and other stakeholders and developing and
implementing or accessing technology and building supporting
infrastructure. These actions require viable financing options.
In order to offset the decreasing amount of water, which was
previously stored in snow and ice, investment is needed in water
storage and distribution systems as well as in natural water
retention methods. For example, multiple use water storage
systems should be encouraged, which can supply multiple
water needs such as drinking water and irrigation. Innovative
financing mechanisms, such as municipal water funds, should
also be explored. Furthermore, focussing on increasing and/or
diversifying the range of livelihood options, that are available to
local communities can also help spread risk and allow for different strategies. The IPCC has started to focus on the climate risks
adaptation strategies to be adopted. Accessing new technologies, in mountains with a special report soon to be published. This
including decentralised small-scale hydropower systems, should should lead to mountains being included in the next IPCC global
also be explored where relevant. assessment report.

Make mountains a focus of Increase policy coordination and integration


targeted adaptation policy within and between countries

A growing number of organisations in Latin America are working Countries could benefit from harmonising policies and aligning
on climate change adaptation specific to mountain areas (ELLA, national laws to protect mountain environments, building further
2017). However national adaptation policies rarely recognise the on the lessons learnt in some of the Andean countries that have
unique problems and challenges encountered in high mountains adopted novel approaches. The UNFCCC recognises the potential
(Schoolmeester et al., 2016). The World Bank Mountain gains from regional synergies that promote joint efforts in the
Vulnerability Framework (Brodnig and Prasad, 2010) recognises development and implementation of adaptation actions. These
mountain specificities, such as accessibility, fragility and include knowledge sharing, avoiding duplication, economies of
marginality that can be assessed to develop tailored adaptation scale and cost sharing and conflict minimisation.

11
Introduction
Mountains are often referred to as the water towers of the With fast retreating glaciers, there is a paradox. Over the past
world, given their role in providing water to populations around few decades, many communities living beneath them may have
the globe. This could not be truer than in the Andean region, enjoyed a period of relatively more abundant water, as the glaciers
where mountains play a crucial part in providing water to over have released their meltwater. The evidence now shows most
75 million people within the region, and a further 20 million glaciers have reached their peak water output or will reach it within
people downstream. the coming decades.

Some of this water is provided through rainfall. At higher The signals are clear. They point to an urgency to better understand
elevations the glaciers have long provided a steady stream of the environmental changes to come and to implement suitable
meltwater when it is most needed, during the dry season. adaptation responses.

Yet the Andes is not, and has not been, immune to climate This atlas has been designed to provide a comprehensive overview of
change. Several archaeologic studies have linked climate stress the status of glaciers across the Andes region and possible adaptation
to the cultural behaviour of civilisations in the Andes (Binford et options. It is intended for policy makers in the region, as well as the
al., 1997; Dillehay & Kolata, 2004; Tung et al., 2016). The collapse general public. The start of the atlas focuses on introducing the region
of the Tiwanaka civilisation for example, coincided with rapid both in geographical, historical and socio-economic terms. Then, it
and significant climate change; drier conditions had affected the describes the climate and specifically examines past and projected
hydrological and ecological characteristics of the land the people trends in temperature, and precipitation. The section entitled
used for agriculture (Binford et al., 1997). “Shrinking Ice” provides more detailed insights into glacial trends in
each Andean country and projected trends. The “Accelerated Glacier
This mountainous region is once again entering a period of Melt” section examines the impact on communities and various
unprecedented change. Glaciers in the Andes are some of the sectors of glacial melt and glacial outburst floods. A non-exhaustive
fastest retreating in the world. In some areas, many glaciers have overview of adaptation options is then provided and includes a
disappeared, while in other areas a steady decline will continue series of best practise cases. The atlas concludes with a series of
for decades to come. recommendations, particularly targeted at policy makers.

12
PART 1

THE ANDES

13
Peaks, plateaus and valleys
The Andes are the longest continental mountain range in the that started approximately 140 million years ago (Isacks, 1988).
world, extending for more than 7,000 km from Venezuela in This collision caused the formation of a series of parallel mountain
the north to Argentina in the south. Geographically they can be chains or cordilleras, interspersed with high peaks, plateaus and
divided into three regions; the Northern Andes which includes the valleys. The Andes are the second highest mountain range after
Venezuelan, Colombian and Ecuadorian mountains, the Central the Himalayas and are a defining feature of the South American
Andes which encompasses the Peruvian and Bolivian mountains continent. They have an average altitude of 4,000 m, with many
and the Southern Andes which consists of the Chilean and peaks higher than 6,000 m above sea level (Arana, 2016). The
Argentinean mountains. Together the Northern and Central Andes highest mountain, Mount Aconcagua in Argentina is 6,908 m.
form the Tropical Andes. The Southern Andes is often referred to The ongoing tectonic movement in the Andes generates frequent
as the extratropical Andes. earthquakes and volcanic activity. Extinct or active volcanos
can be found across the region, including the highest volcano
The Andes were formed as a result of the subduction of oceanic on earth, Ojos del Salado in Chile, which is 6,893 m (Borsdorf
plates under the South American continental plate; a process & Stadel, 2015).

A diversity of climates
Crossing seven countries, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, The Dry Andes stretch over most of western Argentina and
Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile, the Andes covers three central Chile and are divided into two sub-zones: the Desert
large climatic zones. These are generally defined as the Andes, which extend from the northern boundary of Chile to
Tropical Andes, the Wet Andes and the Dry Andes. Within the Choapa Basin (~17°30'–32° S) and the smaller Central
these broad zones, however, there is considerable climatic Andes (32–36° S) (Lliboutry 1998; Barcaza et al., 2017). Due
variation – also from east to west – reflected in numerous to low precipitation, glaciers do not occur in the Desert Andes,
complex sub-zones that occur as a result of orography, only permanent snow patches and glacierets (Lliboutry
regional and local atmospheric circulation patterns and 1998). In contrast many large glaciers are found in the wetter
ocean currents. central Andes, which are characterised by a Mediterranean
climate with wet winters (April–September) and dry summers
The Tropical Andes extend from their northernmost point (October–March) (Barcaza et al., 2017).
(which includes high islands in the Caribbean), southwards
until the Bolivian border (Cuesta et al., 2012). The northern The Wet Andes is the southern sub-region of the Argentine
part of the Tropical Andes is very wet with low seasonal and Chilean Andes. It extends south of the Itata river, where
temperature variability. The high rainfall sustains dense the elevation of the mountains decreases sharply, to Cape
cloud forests. The southern Tropical Andes are drier, with Horn. The area includes the heavily glacierized Patagonian
the highest rainfall occurring during the summer months and Andes and the sub-polar Tierra del Fuego archipelago and is
a distinct dry season from April to September (Espinoza et characterised by increased annual rainfall with a strong west–
al., 2015). east gradient (Garreaud, 2009; Barcaza et al., 2017).

14
15
This complex topography, coupled with elevation, altitude Andes glaciers
and climatic gradients has made the Andes one of the most
ecologically diverse mountain systems in the world (Borsdorf & Glaciers are thick masses of ice which flow slowly due to gravity.
Stadel, 2015). The wide variety of ecosystems with their rich flora Glaciers, including the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica,
and fauna, have long provided support for human settlements. cover about 10 per cent of the world’s land surface and store
Features include high-land plateaus, sometimes referred to as about 75 per cent of global freshwater (National Snow and Ice
mountain knots, that are formed where mountain chains meet. Data Center, 2018).
Some of the highest cities in the world, such as La Paz in Bolivia
and Quito in Ecuador are found on these high plateaus. In the Andes, the greatest number of glaciers is found along the
border between Chile and Argentina (approximately 4,000). A
The Andes cryosphere smaller number are found in the Tropical Andes, which constitute
more than 95 per cent of the world’s tropical glaciers (Vuille et
The cryosphere, originating from the Greek word for cold, kryos, al., 2008). The largest number of tropical glaciers is located in
consists of areas where water is frozen. It includes places that are the Peruvian Andes, with the Quelccaya Ice Cap located in the
either seasonally or year-around below freezing. The cryosphere Cordillera Vilcanota being the largest single ice body in Peru
on land includes areas of snow cover, glaciers, ice caps, ice sheets, (Hastenrath, 1998).
river and lake ice, permafrost and seasonally frozen ground. The
cryosphere plays an important role in climate with many direct In the Andes, glaciers only form above the snowline, where snow
links and feedbacks. These influence surface fluxes of energy and persists throughout the year. Their formation depends on latitude,
moisture, cloud formation, precipitation and atmospheric and altitude, and annual precipitation. As snow accumulates it
oceanic circulation (Khromova, 2010). In the Andes, the freezing compresses the underlying snow, creating a layer of dense snow,
and melting regime of snow and ice has a significant impact on called a firn. As the snow continues to accumulate the pressure
alpine hydrology and ecology (Diaz et al., 2003). increases, further compacting the firn, which develops into solid

16
Tropic of Cancer

Glaciers in the Andes

Pico Cristbol Coln


10º N 5.775 Caracas

Pico Bolvar VENEZUELA


4.980
Georgetown
Ritacuba Blanco
5.410
GUYANA Paramaribo
Nevado del Ruiz
5.311
Bogota SURINAME
COLOMBIA FRENCH
Volcan Galeras GUIANE
4.276 Equator line
Quito
ECUADOR
Chimborazo
6.267

PERU

Huascarán
10º S 6.768 BRAZIL

Lima
Nevado Auzangate
6.372
Nevado Coropuna BOLIVIA Brasília
6.425
Nevado Illimani
6.402
Nevado Sajama
6.542 Sucre
20º S

Aucanquilcha
DRY ANDES

6.176
PARAGUAY
Volcan Llullaillaco Tropic of Capricorn
6.739 Asunción

Nevado Ojos del Salado


6.880

30º S

Cerro Aconcagua
6.959 URUGUAY
Cerro Tupungato
6.550 Glacier
Santiago
Montevideo
Glacier area
Buenos Square kilometres
Volcan Domuyo Aires
4.709 1.235
ARGENTINA (Pio XI, Chili)
40º S
CHILE
Monte Tronador 500
3.554
WET ANDES

100
Cerro San Valentn
4.058
10
5 or less
Monte Fitz Roy
50º S 3.375

60º S

Source: World Glacier Monitoring Service database, accessed February 2018.


GEO-GRAPHICS / GRID-Arendal 2018
During periods of increased snow mass accumulation or ablation,
the equilibrium is disrupted and the glacier will either advance
or retreat more than normal (National Snow and Ice Data Center,
2018). Few glaciers ever remain at equilibrium.

While glaciers are extremely sensitive to environmental and


climatic changes, they also play a role in influencing the global
climate. For example, the reflective capacity of ice and snow is
important in regulating atmospheric temperature. The term
‘albedo’ describes the ability of surfaces to reflect solar radiation.
Dark surfaces have a low albedo, which means they absorb more
energy and warm up, while white surfaces have a high albedo,
reflecting a large part of solar energy back into space. The high
albedo of ice and snow keeps these surfaces cooler. The more
atmospheric temperatures rise, glaciers shrink, and snow cover
glacier ice. When this ice gets thick enough the glacier begins disappears, the more radiation is absorbed by the surrounding
to flow, due to the force of its own mass under gravity, either by darker ground, which warms and reinforces the melting. This is an
sliding or internal deformation. example of a positive feedback loop.

A glacier can be divided into two zones; the upper accumulation Shrinking glaciers and reduced snow cover are not the only
zone, where the snow mass accumulates and the lower ablation concern in regard to the earth’s changing albedo. Black carbon
zone, where more glacier mass is lost, or ablated, than gained is emitted into the air as fine particles as a result of incomplete
through snowfall. Ablation can occur due to melting, wind erosion combustion, for example from wood fired stoves or from diesel
and calving (National Snow and Ice Data Center, 2018). The point burning engines. When the particles sink to the ground, they
between the two zones where accumulation equals ablation is create a layer of soot. These fine particles can travel relative far
termed the equilibrium line. The equilibrium line is visible on in the air and, when covering glaciers or snow, they darken the
temperate glaciers, a glacier at melting point that contains liquid surface and reduce the glaciers’ albedo. This causes the glaciers
ice. The line marking the boundary between new snow and old to absorb more sunlight and warm accordingly. Research shows
snow (firn) exposed by melting. However, the line tends to be that glaciers near population centres, where polluting activities
diffuse on polythermal glaciers, which have a complicated thermal are concentrated, are more affected by black carbon pollution
structure (Hambrey & Alean, 2016). than those further away (Schmitt et al., 2014).

Glacier mass balance

Snow
precipitation

Avalanches

Lateral moraine
Accumulation zone
Pressure and
solution
Snow and firn
Snow flakes Equilibrium line
Crevasses Terminal
Sublimation moraine
Granular snow
Ablation Glacial Flood plain
(50% air) Plucking Melting Lake
zone
Glacier front
Firn movement
(25% air)
Abrasion

GEO-GRAPHICS / GRID-Aren
dal 2018
18
Glacier distribution, surface area and altitude in the Andes

Latitude
10º N

Equator line

10º S

20º S
DRY ANDES

Tropic of Capricorn

30º S

Glacier area
40º S Square kilometres
1.235
WET ANDES

500

100
50º S
10
5 or less

0 1 000 2 000 3 000 4 000 5 000 6 000 6 640


Altitude
Metres
Sources: World Glacier Monitoring Service database, accessed February 2018. GEO-GRAPHICS / GRID-Arendal 2018
Glacier classification

Morphology – Primary Classification


based on World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS) and Global Land Ice Measurements from Space Initiative (GLIMS)

Mountain glacier

Develop in high mountain regions and can range from small


masses of glacial ice to large valley-filling systems. Mountain
glaciers include cirque, niche or crater type, hanging glaciers
and ice aprons. Ninety-one per cent of the glaciers of Peru’s Outlet glacier
Cordillera Blanca are mountain glaciers.
Flows down from an ice sheet, ice field or ice cap beyond its
margins. Has no clearly defined catchment area and usually
follows local topographic depressions.

Valley glacier

A glacier that flows down a valley and has a well-defined catchment


area. Ice free slopes usually overlook the glacier surface.

Ice field

Approximately horizontal ice-covered area (no dome shape)


smaller than 50,000 km2. Ice masses are not thick enough to
obscure the subsurface topography. Two of the world’s most
extensive ice fields are found in Patagonia.

Glacieret

A small ice mass of indefinite shape that forms in hollows, river


beds and on protected slopes. Glacierets develop from snow drifts,
avalanches and heavy snow accumulation in certain years. Usually
there is no visible flow pattern with almost no ice movement. The
accumulation and ablation areas are often not clearly defined.

Ice cap

Dome-shaped masses of glacier ice with radial flow. An example Rock glacier
is the Quelccaya Ice Cap located in Peru. The ice cap is at an
average altitude of 5,470 m and spans an area of 44 km2 A glacier-shaped mass of rock in a cirque or valley containing
(Thompson et al., 1985). interstitial ice, slowly moving downslope as a debris mass.

20
Glacier classification

Selected glacier types found in the Andes, based on secondary characteristics


(WGMS and GLIMS)

Tidewater glacier
Cirque glacier
Glaciers that flow down into the ocean. They often calve numerous
A special type of mountain glacier that forms in a cirque – an small icebergs. Numerous tidewater glaciers in Patagonia originate
amphitheatre-shaped depression on the side of a mountain in in the ice fields and terminate in the Chilean fjords.
which snow and ice accumulates. As cirque glaciers grow, they
may spread into valleys and form valley glaciers. Venezuela has
one remaining cirque glacier, the Humboldt glacier.

Piedmont glacier

A type of ice field formed on a lowland by the lateral expansion


Hanging glacier of a glacier or the coalescence of several glaciers.

A glacier perched on a steep mountain-side or issuing from a


hanging valley.

Debris covered glacier

A mountain glacier where the ablation area is covered by rock


debris. The debris is predominantly derived from rockfall but
Ice apron may also contain basal debris that has reached the surface
due to deformation processes. In the accumulation area rock
Steep, ice covered mountain faces. Usually thin ice mass which debris is mixed with snow. When it moves into the ablation area,
adhere to a mountain slope or ridge. melting increases the concentration of debris at the surface.

Sources: Cogley et al., 2011; Rau et al. 2005; National Snow and Ice Data Center, 2018; Hambrey & Alean 2016; and Braun & Bezada, 2013 21
22
Rivers, basins and lakes

Most of the large rivers in South America are fed by water from
the Andean mountain range. These high mountains often receive
more precipitation than lowlands. In general, they also have
glaciers and snow-covered areas, which provide a large reservoir
of water. This storage capacity and the release of meltwater are
especially important in regions with a high degree of seasonality
and low levels of precipitation.

The Amazon river basin is the largest drainage basin in the world,
covering an area of almost 6 million km2. It occupies more than
one third of the South American land mass and contributes almost
20 per cent of the freshwater discharge to the ocean (Calléde
et al., 2010; FAO 2015). The transboundary basin has five main
tributaries: the Negro river, which drains the Brazilian Shield
in the northern Amazon; the Solimões river, which drains the
Northern and Central Andes and a large part of the Lowlands; the
Madeira river, which drains the Southern Andes, the Southern
Foreland basins and part of the Brazilian shield; the Tapajós and
Xingu rivers, which drain the remaining area of the Brazilian shield
(Bouchez et al., 2017). Glaciers in the eastern cordilleras of Bolivia
and Peru contribute to the hydrological cycle of the Amazon Basin.
However, their influence tends to decrease rapidly downstream due
to the high contribution of precipitation along the eastern slopes
of the Andes (Bookhagen and Strecker, 2008). It is estimated that
the Amazon rainforest generates and recycles as much as 50 per
cent of this precipitation (Jones et al., 2017).

On the eastern side of the range and south of the Amazon basin,
the La Plata basin covers an area of around 3.1 million km2. This
transboundary basin includes parts of Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay,
Bolivia and Uruguay. It is composed of three large sub-basins,
principally fed by the Paraná, Paraguay and Uruguay rivers. The
Paraná and Uruguay rivers join the La Plata River which discharges
into the Atlantic Ocean near Buenos Aires.

In addition to rivers, lakes play a vital role in the hydrology of


the Andes and provide water and hydroelectric power for many
communities. Many of the high-altitude lakes were formed by
glacial movement and are fed by cold turbid meltwater from glacial
ablation (Barta et al., 2017). In the Northern Andes wetlands, called
páramos and cloud forests are important for water storage (Buytaert
et al., 2017). Water yield in these generally wet regions is high, as
the wetland soils are usually saturated and therefore have high
runoff (Mosquera, Lazo, Célleri, Wilcox, & Crespo, 2015).

23
24
Living in the Andes
Humans have survived and flourished in the Andes for thousands from AD1100 until the arrival of the Spanish in AD1532 is thought
of years. The oldest, high-altitude settlement in the world, to be due to increased crop productivity, linked to favourable
discovered at 4,500 m above sea level in the Peruvian Andes, climate conditions and a 400-year warming period. This allowed
is thought to date to more than 12,000 years old. This suggests the Inca and their predecessors to exploit higher altitudes
that hunter-gatherers occupied high altitude environments of the and build agricultural terraces that used glacial meltwater-fed
Andes just 2,000 years after their initial entry into South America irrigation (Chepstow-Lusty et al., 2009).
(Rademaker et al., 2014).
The Andes continue to be a major influence on seven of South
The process of the domestication of crops and livestock in the America’s fourteen countries in modern times, having left
region is thought to have started between 8,000–9,000 years their indelible mark on the culture and language in the region.
ago, with vital crops like potato, squash, cotton, and perhaps According to figures from 2012, about 44 per cent (75 million
maize being grown at this time (Dillehay et al., 2007; Piperno & people in 2012) of the total population of the seven countries
Dillehay, 2008). This coincided with rapid population growth in live within the Andes mountainous region (Devenish & Gianella,
the South-Central Andes at this same time (Perez et al., 2017). 2012). Spanish is spoken across all countries, and a large number
of other indigenous languages are spoken across the region.
By the early 16th century, the central Andes were the centre of For example, variations of the Quechua language, which have
the Inca Empire, the largest empire the New World had ever survived since Incan times, are spoken by about 10 million people.
seen. About 15 million people were thought to inhabit the Andes Indigenous languages are official languages in Peru and Bolivia,
mountains (Denevan, 1992). Much of the expansion of the Inca within regions of Colombia and Ecuador, and are recognised in
Empire into modern/day Colombia, Ecuador, Chile and Bolivia political constitutions within Venezuela and Ecuador.

25
Population in the Andean region
Population in the Andean region
Population
Million people in the Andean region
50
Million people Colombia
50
Million people Colombia
50
Colombia
Argentina

Argentina

Argentina
40

40

40

Peru
Venezuela
Peru
30 Venezuela
Peru
30 Venezuela

30

20

Chile
20
Ecuador
Chile
20

Chile
Ecuador

Ecuador

Bolivia
10
Bolivia
10
Bolivia
10

0
1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2010 2015
0
1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2010 2015
0
1960
Source: 19702018
The World Bank, 1980 1990 2000 2010 2015
GEO-GRAPHICS / GRID-Arendal 2018
Source: The World Bank, 2018

GEO-GRAPHICS / GRID-Arendal 2018


26 Source: The World Bank, 2018

GEO-GRAPHICS / GRID-Arendal 2018


The Andean countries in numbers
24%

916 VENEZUELA
23.2 15 692

1 141 COLOMBIA
41.5 5 805

55%

256 ECUADOR
14.5
45% 6 018

Country area
Thousand square kilometres 1 285 PERU
27.4 6 049
Andean area

50%

xxx
Total area

Country population
Million people BOLIVIA
1 099
8.3
Population living
in the andean region 3 105

xxx 61%
Total population

Urban extent in the Andes 22%


756
CHILE
22% 15.1
13 792
Percentage of urban extent
located in the Andes

7%
GDP per capita, 2016*
Current US Dollars

*Data for Venezuela refer to 2014

2 766 ARGENTINA

40.1 12 440

Source: CONDESAN, Sustainable Mountain Development in the Andes, 2012; The World Bank, 2018
GEO-GRAPHICS / GRID-Arendal 2018
The social, economic and political reality of the Andean countries experience social exclusion; for example when various rights,
varies significantly, while there are also a number of common opportunities and resources are less available or systematically
issues. The countries have experienced economic growth and blocked to persons or groups. In the Andean countries, indigenous
poverty reduction during the last decades, but there have also people and rural communities have traditionally lived under lower
been examples of serious setbacks as a result of national or global standard living conditions and with lower levels of education, as
financial crisis. The economic disparity between the economically well as lack of access to economic markets and political decision-
stronger and weaker Andean countries has continued to remain, making (Borsdorf & Stadel, 2015). This has also influenced their
and despite progress, poverty continues to be a core issue. The illicit access to land, water and other resources. The marginalisation
drugs industry, as well as corruption remains high on the agenda of indigenous communities continues to remain a challenge for
of socio-economic challenges of the countries (Thoumi, 2002). several of the Andean countries, albeit there has been increasing
awareness on the topic. In Bolivia and Peru for example, greater
Populations within the seven Andean countries have been steadily empowerment and autonomy of indigenous communities has
urbanising for decades, and the total urban population now ranges been visible (Andolina, Laurie & Radcliffe, 2009; Borsdorf &
from 63.9 per cent in Ecuador to 91.8 per cent in Argentina (United Stadel, 2015: Martin & Wilmer, 2008).
Nations Population Division, 2014). The reasons for the urbanisation
are multifaceted, including poverty in the rural areas, temporarily or The Andes´ influence extends well beyond its own geographical
seasonal livelihood opportunities, and internal displacement as a range and contributes significantly to the GDP of the Andean
consequence of insecurity issues (Castles, de Haas & Miller, 2014; countries. For example, apart from serving the needs of the
Grau & Aide, 2007). Rural populations are also drawn to cities due to millions of people in the region itself, water from the Tropical
improved living conditions, which can include higher income, lower Andes is of crucial importance for at least a further 20 million
infant mortality and longer life expectancy (Grau & Aide, 2007). people living downstream. Almost all of the major cities on the
western Pacific slope of the Andes rely heavily on water and the
Rural mountain communities (many of which are indigenous energy produced from hydropower, which the Andes mountains
people), are often disproportionally poor and are more likely to provide (Devenish & Gianella, 2012). The Andes are vital as a

28
Hydroelectricity and other power generation in the Andean countries

Total installed hydroelectric capacity


Percentage of electricity produced by source, 2015
15 393
0 20 40 60 80 100
VENEZUELA

11 726
COLOMBIA

119

4 409 ECUADOR

5 385
PERU
Installed hydroelectric capacity, 2018
Megawatts
200
xxx Total installed capacity in 2018

Installed capacity added in 2017


yyy
603 BOLIVIA

112
Power generation by source, 2015
Fossil
Hydroelectric
Other
7 271
CHILE

181

11 242
ARGENTINA
72

Source: International Hydropower Association, 2018; EIA database, accessed on September 2018

GEO-GRAPHICS / GRID-Arendal 2018


source of mineral resources and agricultural land. Agriculture and
mining have long traditions in the region, and continue to play a
significant role in several of the national economies (Borsdorf &
Stadel, 2015). Between 15 and 17 per cent of total cropland within
the Andean countries is located within the Andes mountains, with
the larger proportion of mountain cropland being in the north:
Peru, Colombia and Ecuador (Devenish & Gianella, 2012).

Chile is one of the major copper producing countries (Romero,


Smith, & Vasquez, 2009) and also home to the world’s largest
open pit copper mine, Chuquicamata. Argentina, Peru and Bolivia
also hold important deposits of silver, gold, tin, copper, and zinc
(Borsdorf and Stadel, 2015). Several of the Andean countries
have considerable potential for hydropower development and are
increasingly utilizing this potential (IHA, 2018).

30
PART 2

CLIMATE IN
THE ANDES

31
A changing climate
Understanding changing rainfall, snow cover and temperature
patterns across the Andes is important for managing water
resources and ecosystems. Due to its scale, the Andes experiences
different climatic conditions between the east and the west, and
between the north and south. The high mountains act as a barrier
to atmospheric circulation, which means rainfall and temperatures
can be very different on either side of the range. In general,
the tropical and sub-tropical Andes are relatively cool and dry along
the Pacific Coast and into the western slopes, while the eastern
slopes experience warm, wet conditions. This is reversed south of
35° (around central Chile and Argentina), where the western slopes
are wet, and the eastern side is semi-arid (Garreaud, 2009).

The South American Monsoon System is an important control on


the climate of the continent. The temperature difference between
the Atlantic Ocean and South America is the main driver of this
seasonal cycle (de Carvalho & Cavalcanti, 2016). During the austral and the moisture-laden wind in the Tropical Andes also occurs in
summer (December, January, February), the easterly monsoon the subtropical Central Andes and results in a similar steep rainfall
carries moisture from the Atlantic Ocean, some of which is released gradient between the humid low-elevation and semi-arid to arid
as rain on the eastern side of the Andes (Garreaud, 2009). There is high-elevation regions (Castino, Bookhagen & Strecker, 2017).
a strong precipitation gradient with elevation, with most of the rain
falling in areas below 3,000 m (Espinoza et al., 2009). The intense The high mountains also deflect the monsoonal trade winds into
rainfall can cause flooding and high levels of erosion (Espinoza et a narrow stream that channels near-surface flow between the
al., 2015). The interaction that occurs between the mountain barrier tropics and midlatitudes (the low-level-jet). This fast-moving air

32
transports moisture from the Amazon Basin towards southern Precipitation
Brazil and northern Argentina (Marengo, Douglas & Silva Dias,
2002). The high rainfall supports agriculturally productive areas Precipitation trends in the Andes are difficult to identify, due to the
and wetlands (Garreaud, 2009). On the other side of the range, lack of reliable long-term observational records and the generally
the coasts of northern Chile and southern Peru are extremely high variability in annual precipitation (Vuille et al., 2018). A number
dry, evidenced by the development of barren areas, such as the of studies reveal an intensification of rainfall, as opposed to an
Atacama desert, the driest desert on earth (Garreaud, 2009; increase in frequency or duration of wet days, basically translating
Schulz, Boisier & Aceituno, 2012). in a change in seasonality and an increase in extreme rainfall events
(e.g. de los Milagros Skansi et al., 2013; Castino et al., 2017; Vuille
Further south, in the Wet Andes, rain is primarily the result of et al., 2018). However, yearly precipitation can vary markedly with
strong moisture laden westerly surface winds from the Pacific both severe reduction or increase in annual volumes, depending
(Garreaud, 2009). The winds are strongest during winter on location and influenced by ENSO events (e.g. Heidinger et al.,
months, during which they can reach further north into central 2018; Ruiz et al., 2017; Lenaerts et al., 2014; Garreaud, 2009).
Chile. Cyclonic depressions, driven by the westerlies, rise over
the Andes, producing high precipitation on the Pacific-facing Studies looking at snow cover indicate an overall decreasing trend
slopes, while the eastern slopes receive dramatically less rainfall in the last two decades in correlation with rising temperatures.
(Aravena & Luckman, 2009). Annual mean precipitation south of Snow loss has been especially significant in the Central Andes
40° is more than 5 m on the western flanks, decreasing to less and on the east flanks (Saavedra et al. 2018). In the Southern
than 1 m on the eastern slopes and dropping to less than 500 Andes, the snow line is also moving up. There exist quite strong
mm on the low-lying Argentinian steppes (Lenaerts et al., 2014). fluctuations from year to year, as well as a convincing link to ENSO,
Consequently, the western side of the mountain range supports however long-term projections are difficult (Malmros et al., 2018).
flourishing vegetation at lower altitudes and massive glaciers at
higher altitudes, while the eastern slopes have less vegetation The projections displayed in the following maps (Precipitation
(Ruiz et al., 2017). in the Andes; Precipitation seasonality in the Andes; and Mean

33
he
he effect
effect of
of El
El

The
Theeffect
effectofofElElNiño
Niñoon
onweather
weatherininthe
theAndes
Andes
Dr y conditi
Dr y conditi

Wet conditions DryDry


conditions
conditions Wet
Wetconditions
conditions

Rising of Rising
Rising
of of
moist warm moist
moist
warm
warm
air airair

South
South
East
East
trade
trade
winds
winds
Severe reversed
reversed
or weakened
or weakened Severe
Severe
droughts droughts
droughts
Warmer summer Warm
Warmwater
water Warmer
Warmersummer
summer
outh accumulates
accumulates
on on
South
South
st Intense summer Dryer
Dryer Dr yer Intense
America’s
America’s
coast
coast
rainfallthan
than
usual
usual Drusual
than yer Intense summer
summer
rainfall
rainfall
than usual
Depth of the thermocline Depth
Depth
of the
of the
thermocline
thermocline
n change, reducing upwelling Warm
Warm
ocean
ocean change,
change,
reducing
reducing
upwelling
upwelling
of cold water layer
layer of cold
of cold
water
water

Cold
Cold
ocean
ocean
layer
layer

Cold
Cold
and
and
warm
warm
episodes
episodes
Oceanic
Oceanic
Niño
Niño
Index
Index

3,0 3,0

old 2,5 2,5and


VeryVery
strong
strong warm episodes
old 2,0 2,0and warm episodes
ceanic Niño
Strong
Strong Index
ceanic Niño Index
1,5 1,5
0 Moderate
Moderate
0 1,0 1,0
Weak
Weak
5 0,5 0,5
5 Ver
Ver
0 0,0 0,0
0 S
-0,5-0,5 S
5 Weak
Weak
5 -1,0-1,0 Mo
Mo
0 Moderate
Moderate
0 -1,5-1,5
W
Strong
Strong W
5 -2,0-2,0
5
-2,5-2,5
0 1995 2000 2005
1950
1950 2010
1955
1955 2015
1960
1960
2018 1965
1965 1970
1970 1975
1975 1980
1980 1985
1985 1990
1990 1995
1995 2000
2000 2005
2005 2010
2010 2015
20152018
2018
0
5
5
Source: National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration Source:
Source:
National
National
Oceanic
Oceanic
And And
Atmospheric
Atmospheric
Administration
Administration W
0 GEO-GRAPHICS / GRID-Arendal 2018
W
0
Mo
5 Mo
5
34 S
0 S
0
The
Th

annual temperature in the Andes) are based on high-resolution


The effect of El Niño on the weather in the Andes spatial interpolation. These have their limitations in areas with
Co C
complex topography like in the Andes. These projections do not
Oce O
The Andean climate is influenced by El Niño-Southern show any elevation dependent warming (altitude amplification)
Oscillation (ENSO) events, which are associated with a band nor other topographic effects because
3,0 the climate models do 3
of warm water, which develops in the equatorial Pacific. El not have that information to start2,5 with (meteorological stations 2
Niño events generally produce intense rainfall at the low are sparse, and data from these is needed for calibrating and
altitudes along the Pacific side of the Andes, while areas validating these climate models). 2,0
For short-term projections, they 2

above 2,000 m receive less rain and experience higher differ a lot from actual observations.
1,5However, they can provide an 1
temperatures than normal (Garreaud, 2009). The strongest indicator for trends in the long-term. There is generally a slightly
1,0 1
El Niño rainfall anomalies occur during the austral summer higher degree of agreement for temperature projections than for
(December–January–February) and are associated with heavy precipitation projections. 0,5 0
rainfall and flooding along the coast of northern Peru and 0,0 0
southern Ecuador (Sulca et al., 2017). During La Niña years Future rainfall predictions are difficult to estimate. However,
-0,5
(when the sea surface temperature across the equatorial most models predict an increase in precipitation during the -0
wet
Pacific is lower than normal) the opposite generally occurs season and a decrease -1,0during the dry season in the tropical -1
(Garreaud, 2009). In the central and southern Andes ENSO Andes (Vera et al., 2006). This also appears to be the case over
-1,5 -1
has a less marked influence, but El Niño has been associated, the Altiplano region (Seth et al., 2010; Minvielle & Garreaud,
for example, with increased rainfall in Central Chile (Verbist 2011, Neukom et al., 2015).
-2,0 Under the IPCC high emission -2

et al., 2010; Robertson et al., 2013) and increased streamflow scenario (Jiang et al. 2000) precipitation is projected to increase
-2,5 -2
in Patagonia (Rivera et al., 2018). In the Tropical Andes, by 2100 along the coastal regions of Colombia and Ecuador and 1
though, variations of glacier mass balance are subject to in some places along the eastern Andes, south of the equator.
ENSO (Veettil et al., 2017). However, precipitation is projected to decrease in the southern
(tropical) Andes, including the Altiplano regions by 2100, leading
to increased drought.

35
Precipitation in the Andes
Baseline, 1950-2000 Projection for 2061-2080
RCP 8.5

VENEZUELA VENEZUELA

COLOMBIA COLOMBIA

ECUADOR ECUADOR

PERU PERU

BOLIVIA

BOLIVIA

Annual average rainfall Projected precipitation


Millimetres change, RCP 8.5 scenario
Percentage
5 000 40
4 000 30
3 000 20
2 000 10
1 000 0
500 -10
-20
-30

Low agreement between


climate models (less
than 5 GCM)
ARGENTINA ARGENTINA

CHILE CHILE

The RCP 8.5 is a scenario that combines assumptions about high population and relatively slow income
growth with modest rates of technological change and energy intensity improvements, leading in the long
Sources: Hijmans, R.J., et al., Very high resolution interpolated climate surfaces for term to high energy demand and GHG emissions in absence of climate change policies
global land areas, 2005, at worldclim.org Sources: Hijmans, R.J., et al., Very high resolution interpolated climate surfaces for
global land areas, 2005, at worldclim.org
GEO-GRAPHICS / GRID-Arendal 2018

36
Precipitation seasonality in the Andes
Baseline, 1950-2000 Projection for 2061-2080
RCP 8.5

VENEZUELA VENEZUELA

COLOMBIA COLOMBIA

ECUADOR ECUADOR

PERU PERU

BOLIVIA BOLIVIA

Precipitation of the wettest


consecutive three months Projected seasonality change
divided by annual precipitation RCP 8.5 scenario
Percentage Percentage points

80 5
70 4
60 3
50 2
40 1
30 0
-5
-10 CHILE
ARGENTINA ARGENTINA
Low agreement between
CHILE climate models (less than
5 GCM)

The RCP 8.5 is a scenario that combines assumptions about high population and relatively slow income
growth with modest rates of technological change and energy intensity improvements, leading in the long
term to high energy demand and GHG emissions in absence of climate change policies
Sources: Hijmans, R.J., et al., Very high resolution interpolated climate surfaces for
global land areas, 2005, at worldclim.org Sources: Hijmans, R.J., et al., Very high resolution interpolated climate surfaces for
global land areas, 2005, at worldclim.org
GEO-GRAPHICS / GRID-Arendal 2018

37
Temperature

Numerous studies have reported significant warming and a


resulting glacier melting over the last decades. There is also
growing evidence of altitude amplification, meaning that the rate
of warming increases with elevation, resulting in high mountain
regions experiencing faster than average temperature changes
(Pepin et al., 2015; Urrutia and Vuille, 2009).

The mean annual temperature in the countries of the northern


Andes (Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru) has increased
by ~0.8°C during the 20th century (Marengo et al., 2011). Surface
temperatures in the high-altitude areas of the Tropical Andes have
increased of ~0.1°C per decade over the last 50 years (Vuille et al.,
2015). This warming has resulted in the altitude of the freezing
level height (zero-degree isotherm) rising by an average of ~45 m
across the region (Bradley et al., 2009).

Temperature predictions for the Andes using the high emission


climate change scenarios (Jiang et al. 2000; IPCC, 2014) indicate that
temperatures in the Andes could increase by 2–5 °C by the end of the
21st century (Hijmans et al., 2005; Cabré et al., 2016). The degree of
warming varies, but according to one study, it could be most intense
at high elevations in the Cordillera Blanca region in Peru (Urrutia
and Vuille, 2009). In addition, by 2100 there could be a much
larger inter-annual temperature variability, a higher likelihood of
extremely hot years, with even the coldest years much warmer
than the warmest years observed today (Urrutia and Vuille, 2009).

Elevation dependent warming in the Tropical Andes

Western slope Elevation Eastern slope

5 000m

4 500m

4 000m

3 500m

3 000m

2 500m

2 000m

1 500m

1 000m

500m

5.0 4.5 4.0 3.5 3.0 2.5 2.0 1.5 1.0 0.5 0.0 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0 2.5 3.0 3.5 4.0 4.5 5.0

Temperature increase* with altitude range 1961–1990 baseline scenario for the Andes
Source: Urrutia, R., Vuille, M., Climate change projections for the tropical Andes using a regional ºC
climate model: Temperature and precipitation simulations for the end of the 21st century, 2009 GEO-GRAPHICS / GRID-Arendal 2018

38
Mean annual temperature
in the Andes
Baseline, 1950-2000 Projection for 2061-2080
RCP 8.5

VENEZUELA VENEZUELA

COLOMBIA COLOMBIA

ECUADOR ECUADOR

PERU PERU

BOLIVIA BOLIVIA

Projected annual temperature


Annual average temperature change, RCP 8.5 scenario
˚C ˚C
25 4.25
20 4.00
15 3.75
10 3.50
5 3.25
0 3.00
2.75
2.5

ARGENTINA ARGENTINA
CHILE
CHILE

The RCP 8.5 is a scenario that combines assumptions about high population and relatively slow income
growth with modest rates of technological change and energy intensity improvements, leading in the long
Sources: Hijmans, R.J., et al., Very high resolution interpolated climate surfaces for term to high energy demand and GHG emissions in absence of climate change policies
global land areas, 2005, at worldclim.org
Sources: Hijmans, R.J., et al., Very high resolution interpolated climate surfaces for
GEO-GRAPHICS / GRID-Arendal 2018 global land areas, 2005, at worldclim.org

39
40
Shrinking ice
Glaciers form above the snowline and temperature and The hydrological response of retreating glaciers is well
precipitation play a major role in their formation and maintenance. documented (e.g. Baraer et al., 2012). With continuous retreat,
As outlined in the previous chapter, temperatures in the Andes are there is a temporary increase in melt runoff, which eventually
increasing and precipitation patterns are changing. reaches a maximum, referred to as peak water. This point is
followed by ever decreasing annual runoff volumes as the glacier
While most glaciers around the globe have been shrinking since continues to lose mass (Mark and Mckenzie, 2007; Baraer et al.,
the end of a cold period at the beginning of the 18th Century, 2012). Downstream, this results in falling river levels and potential
referred to as the Little Ice Age (Vuille et al., 2018; Zemp et al., drought (if not compensated by increasing precipitation). Peak
2015), the recent rapid retreat of glaciers in the Andes has been water occurs earlier in basins with small glaciers and lower ice
linked to anthropogenic climate change (Marzeion et al., 2014). cover. Most studies suggest peak water for the Andean glaciers
Glaciers are sensitive indicators of climate change as they has already occurred or will occur during the coming couple of
respond rapidly to temperature and precipitation changes. The decades (Huss and Hock, 2018; Huss et al., 2017).
rapid retreat of tropical glaciers is considered to be one of the
most visible indicators of global warming (Vuille et al., 2008). Glaciers are retreating in every country of the Andes. This is
The amount of glacial retreat varies, but small glaciers are most especially pronounced on low altitude small glaciers in the
vulnerable and many in the Andes have already disappeared. tropical Andes (Rabatel et al., 2013).

41
Venezuela Some of the remaining glaciers cap active volcanoes, which
can be a deadly combination. The presence of snow and ice
In 1952, 10 glaciers could be found on the mountains of Venezuela provide a source of water that can mix with erupted volcanic rock
(Schubert, 1998). A recent survey found only one remained, the and avalanche material to form lahars, a post-eruption mix of
Humboldt glacier (Braun and Bezada, 2013). The Humboldt glacier meltwater and rock that usually flows down valleys (Vuille et al.,
is located on the northwest-facing slope of Pico Humboldt, the 2018). Lahars can be more destructive than lava flows as they can
second highest peak in Venezuela (4,942 m). In 2011 the glacier travel at high speed. The lahars that formed following the eruption
covered an area of approximately 0.1 km2 and is predicted to of Nevado del Ruiz in 1985 were the result of heating approximately
disappear by 2021 (Braun and Bezada, 2013). 10 km2 of the ice and snow and resulted in the death of more than
23,000 people (Pierson et al., 1990).
Colombia
Ecuador
In Colombia, dramatic glacier recession has taken place, mostly
from the mid-1980s onward (Vuille et al., 2018). It is estimated Ecuador’s glaciers are located closer to the equator than any
that eight of Colombia’s tropical glaciers disappeared during the other Andean glaciers. They are mostly found on mountain
20th century (Ceballos et al., 2006) and more have disappeared ranges of volcanic origin and are restricted to the highest peaks.
since the start of the 21th century (Poveda and Pineda, 2009). A Like those of Colombia, they occur as ice caps on summit areas
2016 examination of satellite data, over an area of approximately and feed outlet glaciers (Jordan and Hastenrath, 1998). The
42 km2 of glacier extent, distributed over four mountain ranges, glaciers are confined to two mountain chains, the Cordillera
revealed a reduction of 38 per cent in glacier extent in the area Occidental with 4 glaciers and the Cordillera Oriental with 3
since the 1990s (Rabatel et al., 2018). It is predicted that only glaciers. Glaciers are more common in the Cordillera Oriental
the largest glaciers on the highest peaks will persist until the because moist air from the Amazon increases precipitation in
second half of this century. Remnant glaciers like Las Conejeras, this region (Cáceres, 2010).
that are being monitored with in situ measurements, are likely to
disappear in the coming years (Rabatel et al., 2018). The glaciers situated on the Antizana and Cotopaxi volcanoes are
of particular interest because they contribute to the water supply
of Ecuador’s capital city, Quito, where more than 2 million people
live (Francou et al., 2000; Francou, 2004; Vergara et al., 2007).
Mass loss from glaciers in this region has been substantial in
recent decades and is expected to continue under climate change
scenarios (Francou, 2004; Vuille et al., 2008).

Aerial photographs of Antizana 15, show that the glacier retreated


very rapidly between 1995 and 2000, a period that corresponded
to strong El Niño events (Francou et al., 2000; Francou et al.,
2004). The Cotopaxi glaciers have also been monitored and
results indicate that they lost approximately 52 per cent of their
surface area between 1976 and 2016 (Jordan et al., 2005; Cáceres,
2010; Cáceres 2016; Cáceres 2017). Glacier retreat on Chimborazo
volcano has also been dramatic over the past few decades, with
glaciers losing 72 per cent of their surface area between 1962 and
2016 (Cáceres, 2010; Cáceres, 2016; Cáceres, 2017).

Peru

The Peruvian Andes hosts the largest number of tropical glaciers


in the world. The glacierized areas are found in 20 distinct
cordilleras, extending from central northern Peru to the southern
border (Morales Arnao, 1998). There are two major glacier
systems, the largest of which, Cordillera Blanca, part of the
Cordillera Occidental or western range, extends for 200 km in the
central northern part of Peru. Eight of the largest glaciers in Peru
are located in the Cordillera Blanca, which is the world’s most
extensively glacier-covered tropical mountain range (Morales
Arnao, 1998).

42
rmalized runoff
Glacier runoff6Normalized
andrunoff
“Peak Water” Normalized runoff
6 6
Normalized runoff

For selected
Magdalenaglacier5basins in the Andes
Daule/vinces 5 Magdalena 5 Daule/vinces
1981 1980 1981 1980
4 4 4
Peak water refers to a point
3
in time where 3 3
meltwater runoff is at its maximum
2 2 2
1 1 1
Normalized runoff Peak Water
0 0 0
uly Sept NovGlacier
Janrunoff
Mar May July SeptXXXXNov YearJan
already past May
Mar July Sept Nov Jan Mar May July Sept Nov Jan Mar May
Aug Oct Dec 1990 Feb Apr Jun2050 Aug XXXX
Oct DecYear yetFeb
to come
Apr Jun Aug Oct Dec Feb Apr Jun Aug Oct Dec Feb Apr Jun
2020 2090 Margin of error up to 20 years
glaciers in each basin Peak water year for selected glaciers in each basin
Observed river basin runoff

2070 Normalized
2100 runoff Normalized runoff 1980 2010 2040 2070 2100 Normalized runoff
6 6 6

5 5 Santa Amazon 5 Amazon


2011 2010 Magdalena 2010
4 4 4
3 3 3
2 2 2
1 1 1
0 0 Daule-Vinces 0
July Sept Nov Jan Mar
July May
Sept Nov Jan Mar May July Sept Nov Jan Mar May
Aug Oct Dec Feb Apr
Aug Jun
Oct Dec Feb Apr Jun Aug Oct Dec Feb Apr Jun
Amazon

Santa
Normalized runoff Normalized runoff Normalized runoff
6 6 6

5 5 Majes Titicaca 5 Titicaca


2026 2011 2011
4 4 4
3 3 Majes 3
2 2 Titicaca 2
1 1 1
0 0 0
July Sept Nov Jan Mar
July May
Sept Nov Jan Mar May July Sept Nov Jan Mar May
Aug Oct Dec Feb Apr
Aug Jun
Oct Dec Feb Apr Jun Aug Oct Dec Feb Apr Jun

Normalized runoff Normalized runoff Rapel Normalized runoff


orado 6 6 Colorado 6

5 5 Rapel Colorado Biobio 5 Colorado


2010 2010 2010
4 4 4
Negro
3 3 3
2 2 2
Baker
1 1 1
Cruz 0 0 Santa Cruz 0
July Sept Nov Jan Mar
July May
Sept Nov Jan Mar May July Sept Nov Jan Mar May
Aug Oct Dec Feb Apr
Aug Jun
Oct Dec Feb Apr Jun Aug Oct Dec Feb Apr Jun

ormalized runoff Normalized runoff Normalized runoff Normalized runoff Normalized runoff Normalized runoff
6 6 6 6 6

5 Santa Cruz 5 Biobio 5 Negro Baker 5 Santa Cruz 5 Negro


2050 2002 2002 2015 2050 2002
4 4 4 4 4
3 3 3 3 3
2 2 2 2 2
1 1 1 1 1
0 0 0 0 0
uly Sept Nov JulyJan Sept
Mar Nov
May Jan Mar
July May
Sept Nov JulyJan Sept
Mar Nov
May Jan Mar May July Sept Nov Jan Mar May July Sept Nov Jan Mar May
Aug Oct Dec Aug
Feb Oct
Apr Dec
Jun Feb Apr
Aug Jun
Oct Dec Aug
Feb Oct
Apr Dec
Jun Feb Apr Jun Aug Oct Dec Feb Apr Jun Aug Oct Dec Feb Apr Jun

Source: Huss, M., Hock., R., Global-scale hydrological response to future glacier mass loss, 2018 Source: Huss, M., Hock., R., Global-scale hydrological response to future glacier mass/ loss,
GEO-GRAPHICS 2018
GRID-Arendal 2018
Aerial photographs indicate that from 1962 to 1970, there were have crossed the signifiant tipping point of peak water (Baraer
a total of 722 glaciers in the Cordillera Blanca, covering an et al., 2012)
area of 723.4 km2 (Ames et al., 1989). By the end of the 20th
century this had been reduced to less than 600 km2 (Georges, The second largest system, the Cordillera de Vilcanota is part of
2004). Glaciers in the Cordillera Blanca have been rapidly the eastern Oriental Cordillera. The Oriental Cordillera is reported
receding over the past few decades, though there have been to have lost half of its glacier area between the late 1970s and the
brief periods of advancement (Vuille et al., 2008). Analysis of early 2010s (Zubieta and Lagos, 2010; López-Moreno et al., 2014;
the Cordillera Blanca has found that many glaciers in the area Veettil & Souza, 2017).

Quelccaya ice cap, Peru


Being situated at 13.5 degrees South latitude, Quelccaya Ice Older lakes, which have a lower sediment content than more
Cap in Peru is the world’s largest tropical ice cap. The ice cap recently formed lakes, are seen in black.
has been retreating rapidly and these images captured by the
Thematic Mapper on the Landsat 5 satellite show the difference Carbon dating of ancient plants further confirms that the advance
in its extent over a period of 22 years – from 1988 to 2010. of the ice cap 6,000 years ago was around 300 m over 1,600
years, whereas the current retreat is happening much faster at
A good example of the shrinkage is the Qori Kalis glacier, a pace of 300 m over 25 years (NASA, 16.09.2010; Thompson et
which is located at the north-western part of the ice cap. al., 2013).
Satellite imagery dating from 2010, shows that an especially
large meltwater lake has been formed as result of glacial Source (1988 image): Landsat-5 image courtesy of the U.S. Geological
shrinkage. Altogether eight glacial lakes, seen in dark blue, Survey. Path: 003, row: 070. Captured on September 3rd, 1988.
have been formed between the first and second image and Source (2010 image): Landsat-5 image courtesy of the U.S. Geological
the Quelccaya Ice Cap is now smaller than 6,000 years ago. Survey. Path: 003, row: 070. Captured on September 16th, 2010.

44
September 3, 1988

meltwater lake

snow

ice

3 km

September 16, 2010

meltwater lake

snow

ice

3 km

45
1995 2000 2005 2010
Bolivia 1990
2015
CONEJERAS
Glaciers in Bolivia are found on two main mountain 0
ranges, the Cordillera Occidental (western) and the -5 000
Cordillera Oriental (eastern), which can be further -10 000
divided into four smaller cordilleras; Apolobamba, -15 000
1995
2000 2005 2010
Real, Tres Cruces and Nevado Santa Vera Cruz. -20 000
1990
2015
The eastern Cordilleras house most of the glaciers -25 000
and these consist of ice caps, valley and mountain ANTIZANA 15 ALPHA
0
glaciers. Glaciers in the Cordillera Occidental are
limited to Nevado Sajama and its nearby volcanoes. -5 000

Due to limited precipitation, no glaciers exist today -10 000

in southern Bolivia (Messerli et al., 1993). -15 000


-20 000

Rapid glacier retreat has been observed in the 1995 2000


20th century, especially since the 1980s (Jomelli 1990 2005
1985 2010
et al., 2009, 2011; Soruco et al., 2009). Glaciers 2015 -
1980
on mount Charquini in the Cordillera Real have 10000 -
lost between 65 and 78 per cent of their area and 5000
recession rates have increased by a factor of four YANAMAREY
0
over the last decades (Rabatel et al., 2006).
-5 000
-10 000
-15 000
-20 000
-25 000
1995 2000
1990 2005
1985 2010
2015
1980
10000

5000
CHACALTAYA
0
1995 2000
-5 000 1990 2005
1985 2010
-10 000
2015
-15 000 1980
10000
-20 000
5000
-25 000 PILOTO ESTE
00

-5 000
The Chacaltaya glacier, also located in the -10 000
Cordillera Real used to serve as a small ski resort -15 000
1995 2000
(the world’s highest at 5,400 m) for the urban 1990 2005
2010
population of La Paz. Between 1940 (when its size 1985 -25 000
2015
was 0.22 km2) and 1983, the glacier lost 62 per 1980
10000
cent of its area. In 1998 it covered only 0.01 km2
5000
or seven per cent of the extent in 1940 (Francou ECHAURREN NORTE
00
et al., 2000). By 2009 the glacier had completely
-5 000
disappeared. Chacaltaya is representative of many
of the glaciers in the region, since more than 80 -10 000

per cent of all glaciers in the Cordillera Real are -15 000
-20 000 2005 2010
less than 0.5 km2 in size (Francou et al., 2000). 2000 2015
Chacaltaya is also an example of how glacier -25 000

retreat accelerates once a glacier reaches a critical MARTIAL ESTE


0
size where edge effects of warm air advection from
-5 000
the surrounding rocks become critically important
-10 000
(Francou et al., 2003).
-15 000
Source: World Glacier Monitoring Service database, accessed February 2018.
46
GEO-GRAPHICS / GRID-Arendal 2018
Cumulative net mass balance for selected glaciers in the Andes

Cumulative net mass balance


Metres of Water equivalent
10º N Caracas 2005 2010
2000 2015
VENEZUELA RITACUBA
Georgetown BLANCO
0
GUYANA Paramaribo
Bogota -5 000
SURINAME
-10 000
COLOMBIA FRENCH
-15 000
GUIANA
2005 2010 Quito
2000 2015 Equator line
ECUADOR
ARTESONRAJU
0
-5 000
The size of the red squares on the map is proportional
-10 000 PERU to the cumulative net mass loss for the observed years
-15 000 BRAZIL

2000 2005 2010


1995 Lima
2015 2005 2010
1990 2000 2015

BOLIVIA CHARQUINI
ZONGO SUR
0 0
2005 2010
-5 000 -5 000 2000 2015
-10 000 Sucre -10 000 BROWN
-15 000 -15 000 SUPERIOR
0
-20 000
-5 000
2005 2010 PARAGUAY
2000 2015 -10 000
Asunción -15 000
LOS AMARILLOS ARGENTINA
0 0
-5 000
-10 000 2005 2010
2000 2015
-15 000 URUGUAY
CONCONTA
NORTE
Santiago 0
Montevideo
2005 2010 Buenos -5 000
2000 2015 Aires
-10 000
MOCHO
-15 000
CHOSHUENCO SE CHILE
0
2005 2010 2005 2010
-5 000 2000 2015 2000 2015
-10 000
-15 000 TORO 1 TORO 2
0 0
-5 000 -5 000
-10 000 -10 000
-15 000 -15 000

2005 2010 2005 2010


2000 2015 2000 2015

GUANACO ESPERANZA
0 0 0
-5 000 -5 000
-10 000 -10 000
-15 000 -15 000
Chile and Argentina
Permafrost and Rock Glaciers
Temperatures in the mountains of Chile and Argentina have risen
by about 0.2 to 0.3˚C per decade since 1976 (Falvey and Garreaud, Permafrost, or frozen ground, forms at high altitudes and,
2009), and are still increasing (Vuille et al., 2015). Glaciers in the like glaciers, is sensitive to temperature changes. Warming,
region, like those in the Tropical Andes, have been retreating, glacier retreat and permafrost thawing destabilise mountain
especially in the last decades. Large tidewater and freshwater slopes. The extent of permafrost in the Andes has not been
glaciers in Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego have experienced rapid extensively studied, which makes it difficult to predict the
retreat (Warren and Sugden, 1993). Dramatic examples include the implications of thawing on communities and the environment.
retreat of Jorge Montt Glacier (19.5 km between 1898 and 2011; Active rock glaciers indicate the presence of permafrost
Rivera et al., 2012a) the O’Higgins Glacier (14.6 km between 1896 and are the visual expression of permafrost creep (Barsch,
and 1995; Casassa et al., 1997) the Upsala Glacier (6.7 km between 1996). The structure of rock glaciers makes them more
1945 and 1995; Aniya, 1995; Skvarca et al., 2003; Sakakibara et al., resilient to warming than glaciers and as the climate warms
2013) and the Marinelli Glacier (10.7 km between 1913 and 2000; they are expected to be an increasingly important contributor
Porter and Santana, 2003). Glacier thinning is not only restricted to to river and stream flow. Rock glaciers are actually more
low-lying areas, where it attains maximum values, but also occurs abundant than glaciers in the central part of the Andes
in higher elevation areas (Willis et al., 2012a, b). Due to local ice (Jones et al., 2018).
dynamics there are some glaciers which are still advancing, e.g. Pio
XI and Trinidad glaciers (Casassa et al., 2014; Rivera et al., 2012). However, Rangecroft et al. (2016) looked at the current extent
and future projections for the fate of permafrost and active
Future predictions rock glaciers in the Bolivian Andes. They found the projected
warming would result in the loss of 95 per cent of the current
It is predicted that glaciers over the whole of the Andes will permafrost in Bolivia by 2050 and 99 per cent by 2099
continue to retreat. The consequent changes in hydrology will (Rangecroft et al., 2016). These predictions include the loss of
have significant impacts on communities and ecosystems. Future almost all of the Bolivian rock glaciers by 2099, resulting in a
glacier shrinkage will lead to a long-term reduction in dry season significant impact on water security in the country.
river discharge from glacierized catchments (Vuille et al., 2018).

48
Predicted climate change impacts on permafrost in the Central Andes
Sorata
CORDILLERA REAL
Achacachi
Ilave Coroico
La Paz
PERU Desaguadero
Viacha
Quime

Moquegua Coro Coro


Sica Sica
Charaña

Tacna
Oruro Area of permafrost, as a function of
mean annual temperature below 0° C
Present
Arica
2050
2080
Sabaya Challapata
Cuya

Llica BOLIVIA

Iquique
Pozo Almonte
Uyuni

Villa Martin
Lagunas

CHILE

ARGENTINA SAJAMA

WESTERN CORDILLERA WESTERN CORDILLERA


SOUTH NORTH

Source: Rangecroft, S., et al., Future climate warming and changes to mountain permafrost in the Bolivian Andes, Climatic Change 2016
GEO-GRAPHICS / GRID-Arendal 2018
on the Nevado de Tolima will likely disappear before 2030, and
most of the glaciers in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and Sierra
Nevada de El Cocuy will be gone before 2050. They suggest that
only a few of the largest glaciers on the highest parts of the Nevado
del Huila, Nevado del Ruiz and in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta
and Sierra Nevada de El Cocuy will exist beyond the middle of this
century, and those that do survive will be much reduced.

Schauwecker et al. (2017) modelled the change in freezing level


height to estimate the future extent of glaciers in Peru. The mass
balance of tropical glaciers is sensitive to the rise in freezing level
height due to a decrease in accumulation. They found that by
the end of the 21st century, the freezing level height will rise by
230 m (±190 m) for the low IPCC (2014) global warming scenario
and 850 m (±390 m) for high scenario. They conclude that even
with the best scenario glaciers will continue to shrink and with the
Glaciological models run under different emission scenarios by highest warming scenario glaciers may only remain at the highest
the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggest summits (above 5,800 m asl).
that in the future, tropical glaciers will decrease most dramatically
in volume. The predicted decrease is dependent on which scenario In the Southern Andes a future temperature increase is predicted,
is used to calculate volume loss. For example, for the moderate with values ranging from about 1°C for the more moderate IPCC
IPCC climate warming scenario (2014) volume losses of 78–97 per scenario, up to 7°C for the extreme scenario (IPCC, 2014). As a
cent are predicted, while for a high emission scenario losses direct consequence of warmer atmospheric temperatures, the
increase to 93-100 per cent (Radić et al., 2014). freezing level height and the Equilibrium Line Altitudes (ELAs)
in the Southern Andes are predicted to continue to rise, with an
Rabatel et al., (2018) have estimated the future changes in associated loss of glacier mass at an increasing rate (Carrasco et
Colombian glaciers. Extrapolating from the observed glacier surface al., 2005, 2008; Fig. 8). Small glaciers such as Echaurren Norte are
area shrinkage rates over the last decades, indicates that glaciers predicted to disappear by 2040-2045 (CECs, 2009).

50
PART 3

THE IMPACT OF
GLACIER MELT

51
Accelerated glacier melt
Glaciers play an important role in the hydrology of the Andes, especially
in arid or semiarid regions. With their ability to store water during cooler Glacier lake outburst flooding (GLOFs)
periods and release it as meltwater during the dry season, they bridge
the arid periods and act as an important buffer for human settlements The accelerated snow and glacier melt increase the
and natural ecosystems (Buytaert et al., 2017). The decrease of glacier formation of glacial lakes. In many cases, the lakes
mass negatively affects a glacier’s ability to act as a store for water have limited moraine dam integrity, which could lead
resources. As described earlier, in the short-term, the accelerated to dam failure over time, often causing glacier lake
melt rate brings a surge in the melt runoff, often referred to as peak outburst flooding (GLOFs). The glacier lake outburst can
water, which could create unsustainable levels of water dependency trigger floods, and alter the water flow course, as well as
among communities and people. In the long-term, after the initial altering the water quality due to high sediment loading.
surge ceases, there will be a decrease in the amount of streamflow. As such, GLOFs represent major hazards for people and
communities living in the valleys in proximity to glacial
While the accelerated melting of glaciers in the Andean region is lakes. There are many examples of the potentially severe
well understood and reported, the consequences to hydrological impacts of GLOFs, such the threat to human life and the
processes and human uses and activities are less clear and possible damage to infrastructure, including housing,
unequivocal. The consequences can be severe, as the decreasing roads and highways, and water supply systems. In 1941
amount of streamflow exacerbates seasonal variability and people´s a GLOF in Lake Palcacocha in Peru caused the death
vulnerability to extreme weather and climate change. The extreme of 5,000 people. In 2010, parts of the Peruvian city of
drought in Bolivia in 2016–2017 is such an example, in which it Carhuaz were destroyed by a large GLOF caused by Lake
caused the country to call out emergency status as reservoirs dried 513 (Carey et al., 2012). In 2008 and 2009, five major
out and water needed to be rationed (Perez et al., 2017). Another floods from glaciers occurred in Chilean Rio Colonia
example is the ‘mega-drought’ between 2010–2015 in central Chile, (IAI, 2010), a little GLOF occurred at Chimborazo (Glacier
where rainfall was below average and caused severe water shortages #13) in Ecuador on December 2016.
in central Chile and western Argentina (Garreaud et al., 2017).

52
Tropic of Cancer

Population and water risk in Andean countries

Caracas
10º N

Georgetown

GUYANA Paramaribo
Bogota
VENEZUELA SURINAME
FRENCH
GUIANA
COLOMBIA Equator line
Quito

ECUADOR
PERU

10º S BRAZIL

Lima

BOLIVIA
Brasília

Sucre
20º S

PARAGUAY
Tropic of Capricorn
Asunción

30º S

URUGUAY Population in the Andean countries


by administrative unit (city, town, village...)
Santiago Thousands people, 2020 estimates
Buenos Montevideo 8.130 (Bogota)
Aires 5.000

ARGENTINA 1.000
100
40º S 50
Water risk*
Extremely high
High
CHILE Medium to high
Low to medium
Low
*includes 12 global indicators: Baseline Water Stress, Inter-annual Variability,
Seasonal Variability, Flood Occurrence, Drought Severity, Upstream Storage,
Groundwater Stress, Return Flow Ratio, Upstream Protected Land, Media
50º S Coverage, Access to Water, Threatened Amphibians.

60º S
Source: Gassert, F., M. Landis, M. Luck, P. Reig, and T. Shiao. 2014. “Aqueduct Global Maps 2.1.” Working Paper. Washington, DC: World Resources
Institute, accessed February 2018; Center for International Earth Science Information Network - CIESIN - Columbia University. 2017
GEO-GRAPHICS / GRID-Arendal 2018
54
The potential human impact of the decrease of glacial meltwater such as the location and distance from the glacier, as well as
is subject to high uncertainties, however the consequences will be other sources of discharge. Many of the Andean rural highland
unevenly distributed among countries and the communities of the areas are particularly vulnerable for water shortage, especially
Andes. The vulnerability to these changes depends on the degree of in the arid and semi-arid regions of the countries. For example,
sensitivity to the threat and people’s adaptive capacity of the system. the Andean highlands of southern Peru and Bolivia are hotspots
For example, the risks of water scarcity will not affect people evenly, of water stress, because of the semi-arid climate and marked
but people with limited funds and lack of social safety nets are more seasonality. With limited hydrological storage capacity of the
likely to suffer the worst from the impacts (Montaña et al., 2016). small upland catchment flows, the glacier meltwater has acted as
a buffer mechanism. The water stress is further exacerbated by the
In general, the Andean countries are characterised by their fact that these are typically rural communities at risk of poverty
inherent vulnerability to the effects and impacts of climate change, and with limited adaptation capacity (Heikkinen, 2017; Hunt &
based on a combination of manifold vulnerability aspects. These Watkiss, 2011; IPCC, 2007; Moench & Stapleton, 2007).
include widespread and extreme poverty concentrated mainly
in rural areas, social inequality, the importance of agriculture in The situation is also concerning in high altitude population
the economy, urbanisation in risk-prone areas, high incidence centres and cities, especially the areas that have to cope with
of hydrometeorological extreme events and weak institutions a long dry season, of five to six months. The tropical Andean
(Doornbos, 2009). It is also worth mentioning the cultural impact, region is particularly worth mentioning, as the mountainous areas
as many Andean communities have had a strong connection to the are highly populated and encompass some major population
glaciers through cultural beliefs, social values and perceptions. centres, such as Cuzco in Peru and La Paz and El Alto in Bolivia. While
The disappearance of glaciers and the changes in the traditional larger cities have greater emphasis on water storage infrastructure
natural landscape is seen to have a symbolic meaning, which can but with high levels of water stress, glacial meltwater has
be associated with the local communities and the threats to their acted as a buffer from year to year. For example, an estimate
future livelihoods (Kaenzig, 2015; Vuille et al., 2018). of the monthly maximum contribution of glacial melt water to
available water supply during a normal year, found that glacier
The extent of glacial meltwater contributing melt contributed to circa 5 per cent of available water supply in
to streamflow Quito (Ecuador), 61 per cent in La Paz (Bolivia) and 67 per cent
in Huaraz (Peru), whereas the monthly maximum contribution
On a global level, it is estimated that 140 million people live in during a drought year to available water supply would increase
areas where glacier meltwater provides at least 25 per cent of the dependency to circa 15 per cent in Quito (Ecuador),
river discharge, on a seasonal basis (Schaner et al., 2012). The 85 per cent in La Paz (Bolivia) and 91 per cent in Huaraz (Peru)
contributions of glaciers to people depend on a number of factors, (Buytaert et al., 2017)

55
Sectoral dependency on water in the Andes
PERU
Glacial meltwater plays a vital role to societies and
economies across the Andean countries, for example,
by providing supplies for domestic use water, including
drinking and sanitation water. Andean agriculture Lima
is also dependent on glacial meltwater, especially
in the arid and semi-arid regions of some of the
Andean countries such as Peru and Bolivia. The decrease
in glacier runoff is therefore likely to produce water stress BOLIVIA
and affect agricultural production and food security
within certain areas (Young & Lipton, 2006).
Titicaca

Other economic sectors that are highly water dependent


include mining and hydropower (Buytaert et al., 2017;
Carey et al., 2017; Vuille et al., 2018). The decline in
Sucre
glacier meltwater could have potential negative effects
for these sectors. An estimate from Peru´s hydropower
plant Canon del Pato on the Rio Santa, suggested that Maximum glacier melt
there would be a reduction of 1,540 to 1,250 GWh with contribution to river runoff
Percentage
a 50 per cent reduction in glacier runoff, and in the case 10 or less
where the glaciers disappear completely, it would be 10 to 20
reduced to 970 GWh (Vergara et al., 2007). In general, it is 20 to 25
25 to 50
hard to make conclusions on the potential future effects More than 50
of the reduction of glacial meltwater to the hydropower
sector (Vuille et al., 2018). The tourism industry is another
example of a sector that potentially may be influenced by
the decreased glacier size (Vuille et al., 2018).

Rio
Santiago
Colorado

CHILE
ARGENTINA

Bio Bio

Rio
Negro

Palena
56
Chobut
Tropic of Cancer

The impact of river basin water stress and glacier melt in the Andes

10º N Caracas
Sinu Barima
VENEZUELA GUYANA
Atrato Magdalena Essequibo Georgetown
Paramaribo
Orinoco
Bogota SURINAME
COLOMBIA FRENCH
Patia
GUIANA
Equator line
Quito
ECUADOR

Amazon
PERU
Tumbes

BRAZIL
10º S

Lima

Brasília
Titicaca
BOLIVIA
Sucre
20º S See zoom map

PARAGUAY
Tropic of Capricorn
Asunción
La Plata
Main river basin that originates in the Andes
30º S
Overall water stress
Low
URUGUAY Low to medium
Rio Medium to high
Colorado
Santiago High
Montevideo Extreme
Buenos
Bio Bio Aires High severity in
ARGENTINA Drought
Rio Floods
40º S
CHILE Negro

Notes:

water-related risks and is an aggregated measure of


selected indicators such as water stress, seasonal
Palena variability, groundwater withdrawal etc...
Chobut
Flood severity is defined by the number of floods
recorded during the period 1985-2011

Drought severity is defined as the average drought


duration multiplied by the drought intensity (for
50º S the period 1901-2008).
Drought duration is defined as a continuous period,
Gallegos-Chico measured in months, when soil moisture remains
below the 20th percentile. Drought intensity is
measured as the number of soil moisture percentage
Rio Grande points below the 20th percentile.

60º S

Source: WRI Aqueduct, accessed online on May 2018; Buytaert, W., et al., Glacier melt contribution to water resources in the Andes.
GEO-GRAPHICS / GRID-Arendal 2018
The impact on future water availability some places along the eastern Andes, south of the equator, and
decreases projected in the southern (tropical) Andes, including
Climate change projections highlight that Andean glaciers will the Altiplano regions by 2100, leading to increased drought.
continue to retreat, with smaller, low-lying glaciers expected to Increases in extreme weather events, such as heavy rainfall, as
disappear in the near future. The overall impact on water resources well as an increase in extremely hot years, are also projected
may be limited to those areas closer to the glaciers. However, the to increase, which in turn can contribute to floods, inundations,
impact on the seasonality of the streamflow in rivers fed by glaciers landslides and wildfires and direct impacts on food systems
will be significant and reduce the buffer that glacial melt provides and human health. All of these will increase the vulnerability
in the driest periods, even at large distances from the glaciated of the communities that live in or depend on the affected areas.
areas. These changes may be reinforced by the direct impacts Risk reduction and adaptation efforts also need to address
of climate change on streamflow magnitude and variability. these hazards.
For example, one modelling study of the city of La Paz, Bolivia,
highlights that in the case of a complete disappearance of glaciers The decreasing amount of glacial meltwater, coupled with other
and no changes in precipitation, the total water production for La climate change predictions, population growth, urbanisations
Paz city will decrease by 12 per cent at an annual scale and by 24 trends, the growing importance of export-oriented large-
per cent during the dry season (Soruco et al., 2015). scale agriculture, mining, energy and electricity – all point to
increasing needs and competition for water resources in the
Besides the impact of glacial retreat on water resources and Andean countries (Drenkhan et al., 2015). Results from several
the risk of glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs), there are a studies (such as Carey et al., 2017; Rasmussen, 2016; Buytaert
number of other hazards related to climate change that pose & Bièvre, 2012) highlight that demographic changes in the
risks to mountain and downstream societies. High-emission Andean countries – for example population growth – are likely
scenarios for the Andes project a significant amount of warming to be more important for future water scenarios and adaptation
of between 2 to 5° celcius warming by the end of the century. strategies than reduced water resources as a result of climate
Precipitation patterns, although difficult to predict, are likely change. This also emphasises the need for adaptation strategies
to change in the future, with more precipitation projected by to water stress and scarcity, irrespective of glacial melting trends
2100 along the coastal regions of Colombia and Ecuador and in and future precipitation scenarios (Vuille et al., 2018).

58
Impact of climate and hydrological disasters in the Andean countries

VENEZUELA
22
23.2 231

64 COLOMBIA
41.5

2 871

ECUADOR
24
14.5
322

PERU
53
27.4

Number and type of disasters, and relative deaths


2000-2018
Droughts
3 020
Cold waves and severe winter conditions
8.3 BOLIVIA
41
Flash floods and other floods
843
Riverine floods

Landslides

Storms and cyclones


CHILE
34
15.1 354
= 10 people

58 ARGENTINA
347

Source: D. Guha-Sapir, R. Below, Ph. Hoyois - EM-DAT: International Disaster Database – www.emdat.be – Université Catholique de Louvain – Brussels – Belgium, accessed in August 2018

GEO-GRAPHICS / GRID-Arendal 2018


Competing uses, especially between local needs and industrial 8.4.2008), or the conflict between the residents of the Peruvian
water demands, and the decreasing availability of water, can lead town of Espinar and the irrigation project Majes-Siguas II, in which
to conflicts over water resources. Within the Andean countries, the citizens perceive the danger of reduced water supply due to the
water resources are unevenly spread and while water is rarely the irrigation project (Columbia 4.10.2010, La Republica 19.12.2016).
only or most important cause of conflict, it often worsens existing
frictions between actors (Wolf et al., 2005; Vuille et al., 2018). To tackle the increasing water stress of the Andean region,
Conflicts related to water occurs for a diversity of reasons, but the policies for sustainable water management and adaptation
rights and access to water, as well as the quantity and quality of strategies to cope with reduced water availability and higher
the water, is often at the core of the conflicts (Wolf et al., 2005). In demand in the future, as well as the implementation of such
the Andean region, there are several severe examples of conflicting policies and strategies, are urgently needed to enable water
and competing uses of water, such as the water war in Bolivia´s security both in present day and in the future (Ragettli, Immerzeel
third biggest city, Cochabamba (Economist 10.2.2000, New Yorker & Pellicciotti, 2016).

Contribution
Contribution of glacier meltmelt
of glacier to domestic
to domestic water use and
water use irrigated areaarea
and irrigated
e and irrigated area
DuringDuring
a month with maximal
a month glacierglacier
with maximal melt contribution
melt contribution

Irrigation Irrigation Domestic water use


Domestic water use
Domestic water use Hectares ofHectares
land where glacier
of land wheremelt
glacier melt Number ofNumber
people for which for which
of people
Number of people for which contribution is betweenis between
contribution glacier melt contributes...
glacier melt contributes...
glacier melt contributes... 45 and 100% 45 and 100%
i i
...between...between
45 and 80%45 and 80%
i ...between 45 and 80% 402 000402 000
i i
...between...between
80 and 100%
80 and 100%
= 1 000 people
= 1 000 people
= 1 000 people
i ...between 80 and 100%
0 0 10 10 20 20 30 30 40 40 50 50 60 60 70 70 80 80 90 90 100 100
50 60 Hectares
70 ofHectares
land where
of80land where 90 100
glacial meltglacial iiiiiiiiii
contribution iiiiiiiiii
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is betweenis80 and 100%
between 80 and 100%
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iiiiiiiiii iiiiiiiiii iiiiiiiiii
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iiiiiiiiii iiiii
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515 400 515 400
61 000 61 000

79 300 79 300

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iiiiiiiiii iiiiiiiiii iiiiiiiiiiPERU
iiiiiiiiii
PERUiiiiiiiiii iiiiiiiiii
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655 655 iiiiiiiiii iiiiiiiiii


iiiiiiiiii iiiiiiiiii
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429 429
ARGENTINAiiiiiiiiii
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iiiiiiiiii iiiiiiiiii iiiiiiiiii iiiiiiiiii iiiiiiiiii iiiii 95 000 Source: Buytaert, W., etBuytaert,
Source: al. Glacier
W.,melt
et al.contribution
Glacier meltto water resources
contribution in the
to water Andes in the Andes
resources
Source: Buytaert, W., et al. Glacier melt contribution to water resources in the Andes
GEO-GRAPHICS / GRID-Arendal 2018

60
PART 4

ADDRESSING
WATER
CHALLENGES

61
Addressing water challenges
Adaptation, often understood as “adjustment in natural or unpredictable water availability and also risks of flooding due to
human systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs).
or their effects” (IPCC, 2007), is essential for healthy societies
and ecosystems in the face of climate change. While covering a Improving natural water storage in Andean
multitude of actions, from the individual to governmental level, ecosystems
adaptation measures aim to moderate harm or beneficially
exploit opportunities resulting from climate changes (IPCC, As the water storage capacity of glaciers decreases, it will become
2007). It includes reactive and proactive forms of both public essential to maximize other opportunities for water storage. For
and private initiatives, and they often tend to be on-going example, the Andean wet páramos ecosystems, which can be
processes. Adaptation needs to be based on careful analysis of found in the highlands of western Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador
the underlying socio-economic factors of vulnerability to climate and northern Peru, have been shown to be very important for
change in order to avoid maladaptation; that is, “any adaptation hydrological storage (Buytaert et al., 2006). Finding ways to support
responses that address immediate risks but increase future risks, and enhance the natural hydrological storage and regulation
because they create conditions that ultimately raise vulnerability” capacity of ecosystems, with measures such as ecosystem
(McGray et al., 2007). restoration and adaptation are therefore important.

The Andean region is undergoing climatic changes that will have Ecological restoration is defined as “the process of assisting the
far-reaching impacts on the environment and consequently the recovery of an ecosystem that has been degraded, or destroyed”
lives of many Andean people. Communities will need to tackle (SERI, 2006). The aim of restoration is to achieve function
challenges resulting from climate change, such as water scarcity, of the original ecosystem by re-establishing the complex

62
interdependency of species. Such efforts can for example such as flooding and landslides. For EbA to be successful, it needs
include (re)-afforestation and rehabilitation of degraded land to be implemented in an holistic way that considers the ecosystem´s
(Harris et al 2006). The engagement of local communities in complexity, including the relationship between the ecosystems and
these conservation activities is highly important. Not only the hydrology. For example, ecosystems play an important role in
does it strengthen the sense of ownership of the land and the the water cycle through the contribution of soil and vegetation to
ownership and awareness of the ecosystem and its resources, the movement, storage and transformation of water (WWAP, 2018).
but it also uses the expertise of local communities in the process
of identifying species, propagation techniques and the effective Implementing simple and effective water
implementation of strategies. Ecological restoration projects harvesting measures
require technical and ecological knowhow (Murcia et al., 2016),
and the implications of any restoration have to be carefully Water harvesting is a strategy that can boost water storage and help
considered (Harris et al., 2006). maintain water supplies for agriculture. Water harvesting systems
include rustic micro-dams or atajados. A rustic micro dam is a man-
Ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) is defined as a process “that made water reservoir, usually built into a natural depression in the
integrates the use of biodiversity and ecosystem services into an ground or seasonal river bed. A compacted earth dam is constructed to
overall strategy to help people adapt to the impacts of climate capture and store rainwater that runs off the surface, and/or a nearby
change” (Colls et al., 2009). The rationale behind the practice is that water source (Santa Cruz Cárdenas et al., 2008; Goetter and Picht,
healthy ecosystems not only provide a long list of benefits to humans, 2010). The dams store water for irrigation and also promote water
such as drinking water, firewood, food and medicine, but can also infiltration and groundwater recharge, resulting in the maintenance
form important barriers or lessen the damage from extreme events of wetlands and water springs in the lowlands (Zeisser et al., 2013).

CASE STUDY CASE STUDY


Municipal Water Funds for restoring Bringing back ancient traditions
mountain ecosystems for adaptation
Water Funds are a mechanism where water users pay into funds At the height of the Inca Empire in the 1400s, a system of
in exchange for the product they receive – which in this case terraces and irrigation channels, covering almost a million
is clean, fresh water. Dozens of water funds are found across hectares of the Andean hillsides, existed to feed the large
Latin America. One of the oldest is the Fondo Para La Proteccion population. Over the centuries, this system gradually fell
del Agua (FONAG) – the Fund for Water Protection. FONAG is into ruin as the Spanish conquerors forced people to farm
a heritage fund set up by the Municipality of the Metropolitan other crops and to mine mineral resources.
District of Quito through the Public Company Metropolitan
Water and Sanitation (EPMAPS) and The Nature Conservancy. Many of these ancient terraces are now being restored to
deal with increasing water stress. Using archaeological
FONAG’s aim is to ensure proper funding for managing details about the construction of terraces and irrigation
and conserving water basins that cover Quito’s population canals, the Cusichaca Trust, a Peruvian Charity, has irrigated
needs. FONAG operates as a heritage fund, whose capital 160 hectares of terraces in the Patacancha Valley, near
comes from EPMAPS, The Electric Power Company of Quito Cuzco. The project has improved water access and crop
(EEQ), The Nature Conservancy, COSUDE/CAMAREN and productivity in the region. The ancient canals capture water
two Ecuadorian enterprises, Cervecería Andina and Tesalia from waterways during the rainy season and transport it to
Spring Co. The revenues from the fund are used to finance areas where it can feed into year-round springs lower down
environmental activities and programmes that support the hill, thus maintaining river flow even during the driest
water conservation. These include forest restoration and periods. Similar initiatives are being carried out across
planting activities for water resource protection. One the country, including in Lima, where an ancient system of
example is the restoration of the forests located on the high irrigation channels is being restored. These initiatives are
Andean plateau, which are essential in protecting the water seen as cost-effective solutions.
generating springs of the high Guayllabamba river basin
that supply water to the Metropolitan District of Quito.
Sources: Panorama (29.11.2016), New Scientist (9.4.2015),
Source: El Fondo para la Protección del Agua-FONAG, 2018 Smithsonian.com (6.9.2011)

63
As local materials are used in the construction of micro-dams
and atajados, they do not require a large investment. However,
expertise and experience are required to appropriately locate the
structure and construct retention walls that are stable enough to
avoid collapse during the rainy season. It is important to involve
the local communities actively in the development of adaptation
strategies, such as water harvesting techniques. By adopting local
ancestral methods, adoption and ownership of the adaptation
strategy is more likely.

Improving water efficiency and supply

Improving the efficient supply and use of water will become more
important in the face of climate change and increased water
stress. Factors to consider include not only the use of water, but
also the quantity, quality and the timing of water supply (Moench
& Stapleton, 2007). Examining the uses and identifying ways to
decrease the dependency on water (water demand) and avoid
using up or “wasting” water resources when not necessary, is
an important first step. Similarly, including measures to reduce
the amount of freshwater needed through recycling and reuse of
water, including treatment systems, is an important adaptation
action. For certain purposes, it is possible to reduce the demand
of high-quality water by reusing or recycling water. In 2017, the
UN World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP) reported that
around 80 per cent of global wastewater is released into the
environment untreated. Instead of being seen as a burden for
the environment and human health, wastewater represents an
untapped water resource when treated correctly.

Water supply in cities and urban areas, especially in high altitude


areas, is a major concern in the Andean region. The water
resources in the major cities, such as La Paz, El Alto and Quito,
are under increasing pressure due to population growth and
climate change (Buytaert and Bièvre, 2012). Adapting to these

64
challenges, by improved water management infrastructure, and
the strengthening of institutions and planning for integrated and
participatory water resource management, is necessary. Reducing
water loss from urban water and sanitation infrastructure will
be key. For example, in Bolivia, the La Paz water utility installed
equipment and implemented an efficiency programme, which
worked to improve the effectiveness of water distribution. By
doing so, it reduced water losses in the El Alto’s District 4 from
39.6 per cent, down to 26.5 per cent, which represents a water
saving of approximately 619 m3/year (United Nations Population
Division, 2018).

Given the economic dependence on agriculture practices for the


Andean countries and local communities, identifying agricultural
practices that support water conservation, is an important
adaptation measure. Much of the Andean agriculture and food
production depends on rainfall, but irrigation has often been
used to supplement this. The overall water efficiency of irrigation
in most systems does not exceed 35–40 per cent, however
improved irrigation technology can achieve average efficiencies
in the order of 50–60 per cent or more, for example through the
implementation of small sprinkler and drip irrigation systems
(Hendriks, 2013). There are many public programmes aimed
at promoting mechanized irrigation, but these programmes
are usually oriented at the construction of medium and large
systems. There is therefore an opportunity to promote the
development of efficient small systems adapted to the situation
of the most vulnerable. However, since even the introduction of
efficient irrigation technologies can ultimately increase the total
consumption of water, it is necessary to implement measures to
simultaneously improve water conservation measures.

CASE STUDY
Deficit irrigation as an adaptation tool
to water stress
Deficit irrigation is a technique in which the amount of
water a plant receives through irrigation is restricted to
certain critical periods. These are normally when a plant is
undergoing vegetative stages and during the late ripening
period. Outside of these periods, irrigation is restricted
or even not applied if rainfall can provide the minimum
requirements for the plant. The approach, while inducing
some plant water stress, aims at providing stable crop
yields rather than aiming for maximum yields. In areas
where water may be a limiting factor – that is, in dry
regions – deficit irrigation is widely seen as a sustainable
production strategy, which can increase water productivity
without causing severe yield reductions (Geerts & Raes,
2009). One study of deficit irrigation for quinoa in the
Bolivian Altiplano found that only half of the typical
irrigation water was needed to produce a sustainable
yield (Geerts et al. 2008).i

65
Preparing for glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs)

While the issue of water scarcity and a lack of water will affect Identifying measures to reduce the risks and the negative impacts
many people across the Andes, several mountain and downstream associated with glacier melting, such as GLOFs, is not only important
communities and regions also have to deal with the possibility to avoid loss of human life but also for the protection of infrastructure
of glacial lake outburst floods. In many areas, the retreat of and livelihoods. GLOFs represent one of the most severe glacial
glaciers has been accompanied by the development of pro-glacial hazards. Approaches to this risk, need to be based on careful
lakes, which have the potential to burst and cause glacial lake analysis of the hazards, land use planning and zoning regulations,
outburst floods (GLOFs). GLOFs are not new to the continent. A as well as warning systems and emergency protocols (Vuille et al.,
global study identified 165 GLOFs events since the beginning 2018). Increasing community outreach and publicity to raise local
of the 18th Century, with 40 of these events occurring in South awareness of the risks is an important step. Engineering can reduce
America. Of these, 11 occurred in Chile between 1913 and 2009, the risk of outburst floods by installing infrastructure, such as pumps
one in Colombia in 1995, and 28 in Peru between 1702 and 1998 that reduce water levels, as well as other means of moraine dam
(Harrison et al., 2018). The risk persists, for example, in Bolivia, stabilization (Carey et al., 2012). Therefore, establishing increased
25 lakes are considered to pose a potential GLOF threat to and more effective glacial lake monitoring systems for improved
downstream communities and infrastructure (Cook et al., 2016). hazards mapping and management is essential.

66
CASE STUDY
An early warning system for potential
glacial lake outburst floods in the
Cordillera Blanca, Peru
The glacial lake Laguna 513 (9°12'45''S, 77°33'00''W) is
located in the Cordillera Blanca at 4428 meters above
sea level, in the tropical Andes of Peru. This and other
glacial lakes sit in the catchment of the Rio Santa Valley,
which is densely populated, with more than 260,000
inhabitants living downstream. Languna 513 started filling
up in the 1970s. Syphoning of water was undertaken in the
1980s and tunnels were built in order to further lower the
water level in the lake. However, in April 2010 a rock-ice
avalanche entered the lake, causing a GLOF which damaged
several bridges downstream and covered agricultural land.
Fortunately, in this case no lives were lost.

Based on insights from retrospective modelling analysis Policies and approaches to address water security
of the 2010 GLOF and hazard mapping on potential future in the Andes
scenarios, an early warning system was developed.
The system consists of four stations, each strategically Adaptation at the local and community level needs to be supported
positioned. One station sits at the lake itself and a second by actions, including appropriate national and regional policy, trans­
station located at 3,600 m includes a pressure sensor. boundary cooperation and international action on climate change.
Both stations are equipped with geophones (devices
recording ground movements and converting them into In many cases, local level approaches may be insufficient for water
voltage). These are the main instruments used to register conservation and management. This is because water resources
a potential GLOF trigger. Additional instruments include in the basin are impacted by several factors that extend beyond
a camera at the highest station taking photographs every the local area, such as agriculture, urban development and forest
five seconds, and other sensors that measure humidity, conservation. And equally, the water resources affect the human
wind speed, air temperature etc. The third, repeater activities in the areas surrounding the basin. Approaches such as
station sits at 3,200 m and the fourth station, the data river-basin Integrated Water Resources Management can be used
centre which receives all the information, is located to ensure that the linkages between the management of water and
at 2,600 m. land are addressed, giving all the stakeholders within the river
basin area an opportunity to improve coordination and operation
In the event that one of the geophone passes over a (UNESCO-International Hydrological Programme, 2009).
certain threshold, an SMS is sent automatically to all
involved persons, advising them to immediately check National policies need to provide strategies, plans and actions
the early warning data and information. Subsequent that address adaptation in key sectors such as sustainable
steps have then to be taken based on a pre-defined action water usage, agriculture and energy. National policies must also
plan and on the available data. The early warning system recognise the gender and ethnic inequalities that exist, to ensure
is part of a larger initiative by Care Peru, which included that marginalised groups are considered and accommodated. The
education and capacity building measures on climate failure to develop policies that acknowledge potential impacts of
change adaptation. climate change on mountain environments and related sectors
will hinder economic development and will certainly result in loss
When installing systems like this, it is very important to of livelihoods at a local level and possibly at a much broader scale
actively engage with the local communities to ensure (Schoolmeester et al., 2016).
that they understand the benefit of these systems. In this
case, the early warning system was destroyed by local A number of Andean countries have also taken up specific policy and
farmers because they believed that the system caused legal measures to protect mountain water resource ecosystems and
the droughts that they are experiencing. glaciers themselves. For example, in 2014, the Peruvian Congress
passed the Payment for Ecosystem Services Law (the “PES Law”).
Sources: Frey et al. (2014) & Hill (2016) The Law aims to promote, regulate and supervise the Payment for
Ecosystem Services schemes (the “PES schemes”) to ensure the

67
generation of economic, social and environmental benefits provided
by ecosystems. This strengthens the opportunities to establish
sustainable management of water resources in the Andean region,
by providing a remuneration for conserving natural environments.

Some countries are now also seeking to regulate activity on and in


the vicinity of glaciers through specific glacier laws. While glacier
legislation is normally incorporated into environmental laws, water
management protocols and regional planning strategies (Cox,
2016), just a few countries have specific Glacial Laws. Argentina
was the first country in the world to enact a Glacial Protection
Law (Law 26.639), while Chile’s law has been under discussion in
parliament since 2016. The Central Asian country of Kyrgyzstan has
also proposed a glacier protection law. All these laws have their
origins in the wish to regulate and protect glaciers from mining
activity. However, there is concern that such laws overlook the
dynamics of glaciers and could prevent or delay actions needed to
prevent glacial hazards (for example, the draining of glacial lakes)
or other adaptation measures (Anacona et al. 2018).

CASE STUDY
A short selection of relevant international
and regional initiatives
The Andean Community (CAN) consists of four countries;
Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. While initially
established for regional integration of economy and
trade, there has been an increasing attention on social,
political, cultural and environmental aspects over the last
two decades.

The Consortium for the Sustainable Development of the


Andean Ecoregion (CONDESAN), works with local partners
in Ecuador and Peru to develop restoration practices in
Andean ecosystems and the Andean Forest Landscape
research strategy, which identified a set of high-priority
research goals and objectives to support sustainable
development in the Andes.

The resolution on High Andean wetlands was adopted in


2002 by the parties to the Ramsar Wetland Convention.
Dealing specifically with high Andean wetlands, (covering
the countries Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia,
Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela, (as well as Costa Rica)),
the High Andean Wetland strategy resolution aims to
preserve biodiversity and strategic ecosystems that
provides essential services for humans. It provides a
strategy for the conservation and wise use of wetlands
and wetland complexes in the páramos, jalca, puna and
other High Andean ecosystems, including glaciers, lakes,
lagoons, wet meadows, bofedales, mallines, highland
vegas, salt pans and peatlands, rivers, water streams and
other water bodies.

68
69
Policy recommendations
Increase support for science-based Implement preventive measures for
policy decisions natural hazards related to glaciers

The interaction between science and policy is often weak and For risks from Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs), adaptation
hampered by the definition of common goals and objectives. Joint measures should focus on implementation of preventive measures,
problem framing and more effective interaction between social and including for example creating hazard maps, regulating building
physical climate and impact sciences is needed. Grounding policy codes and land use planning, and creating early warning systems,
in science will help to effectively allocate resources to address the complemented by comprehensive education and awareness
environmental challenges caused by climate change in the Andes programmes (Vuille et al. 2018).
and the associated threat to lives and livelihood. There is a particular
need to consider local and indigenous knowledge systems as a Develop climate
valuable source of information for sustainable management of fragile services
mountain ecosystems. By ensuring that traditional knowledge and
sciences co-produce information for policymaking, enables these There is a need for targeted climate services for water resources
livelihoods to address the challenges posed by climate change management, to ensure that monitoring and early warning
impacts. Bottom-up and top-down approaches have the opportunity information reaches the water users in an appropriate format and
to meet and create a stronger outcome (Huggel et al. 2015). timing. This requires a better understanding of the real needs
of local stakeholders, based upon a bottom-up assessment of
Map the current and projected impacts of water security vulnerabilities, in order to tailor specific climate
climate change on Andean glaciers services to inform current and future hazards. The penetration of
cell phones and smart phones in even the most remote locations
Many aspects of future climate change remain highly uncertain, provides a novel pathway for dissemination to and interaction
due to old and inadequate climatic and glaciological monitoring with local water users.
networks. Improved data-gathering infrastructure is needed to
monitor climate change at the elevation of the glacier, including Increase understanding of water demand
a network of automated weather stations at high elevations and and use – now and in the future
improved on-site monitoring. Equally, better inclusion of these
data with advanced remote sensing and geographic information Recognising that water usage is impacted by societal forces and
system applications is urgently required. On the modelling trends, further in-depth research and understanding is needed of
front, more detailed climate change projections, relying on a water demand and use trends. Population dynamics, urbanisation,
variety of models and several different emissions scenarios are changing consumer patterns, demands for certain goods within
needed, particularly considering that climate change impacts are international markets and the development trajectories of
disproportionately high in mountains. different sectors, including agriculture, mining and hydropower all
influence water usage. Furthermore, water auditing and efficiency
tools should be applied to each sector to determine where water
conservation measures can be made. With the irreversible loss
of many glaciers that will occur in the Andes, irrespective of any
current or future mitigation, scenario development/planning
should be undertaken for water resource management in order to
anticipate and deal with future uncertainty and scarcity.

Implement good water


governance

The importance of water governance should be recognized at


the highest level of decision-making. Integrated water resource
management (IWRM) approaches should continue to be developed
across the Andes countries, while integrating new information
about projected climate impacts and trends.

70
Promote mechanisms for
adaptation learning

Long-term monitoring and evaluation of adaptation projects and


initiatives should be undertaken in order to measure adaptation
actions according to a pre-defined set of criteria, which could
include effectiveness, efficiency, equity, inherent flexibility,
acceptability and robustness. Platforms and mechanisms should
be developed which allow for experiences and lessons to be
shared between and within countries and across a wide diversity
of stakeholders (including municipalities, rural communities,
civil society, private sector, national governments etc.). The
Climate Risk Informed Decision Analysis (CRIDA) provides such a
framework to develop adaptation pathways under climate change
uncertainty (UNESCO and ICIWaRM, 2018).

Finance adaptation
measures

The most effective mechanism for responding to changes in


water availability is improving adaptive capacity, including
training of farmers and other stakeholders and developing and
implementing or accessing technology and building supporting
infrastructure. These actions require viable financing options.
In order to offset the decreasing amount of water, which was
previously stored in snow and ice, investment is needed in water
storage and distribution systems as well as in natural water
retention methods. For example, multiple use water storage
systems should be encouraged, which can supply multiple
water needs such as drinking water and irrigation. Innovative
financing mechanisms, such as municipal water funds, should
also be explored. Furthermore, focussing on increasing and/or
diversifying the range of livelihood options, that are available to
local communities can also help spread risk and allow for different strategies. The IPCC has started to focus on the climate risks
adaptation strategies to be adopted. Accessing new technologies, in mountains with a special report soon to be published. This
including decentralised small-scale hydropower systems, should should lead to mountains being included in the next IPCC global
also be explored where relevant. assessment report.

Make mountains a focus of Increase policy coordination and integration


targeted adaptation policy within and between countries

A growing number of organisations in Latin America are working Countries could benefit from harmonising policies and aligning
on climate change adaptation specific to mountain areas (ELLA, national laws to protect mountain environments, building further
2017). However national adaptation policies rarely recognise the on the lessons learnt in some of the Andean countries that have
unique problems and challenges encountered in high mountains adopted novel approaches. The UNFCCC recognises the potential
(Schoolmeester et al., 2016). The World Bank Mountain gains from regional synergies that promote joint efforts in the
Vulnerability Framework (Brodnig and Prasad, 2010) recognises development and implementation of adaptation actions. These
mountain specificities, such as accessibility, fragility and include knowledge sharing, avoiding duplication, economies of
marginality that can be assessed to develop tailored adaptation scale and cost sharing and conflict minimisation.

71
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This Atlas illustrates the significant reduction in glacier mass happening throughout the Andean region.
It quantifies the contribution of glaciers to drinking water supplies in cities and to agriculture, hydropower
and industries. A reduction in glacier mass results in a long-term reduction in seasonal meltwater –
which is the mainstay of livelihoods for millions of people. The findings highlight the impact on water
availability and security as well as the increased risks associated with changing mountain climates.
People will need to adapt to these new conditions and this can best be done by combining scientific
and technical information with traditional knowledge and practices to develop
new ways of storing and using water.

The Andean Glacier


and Water Atlas
UNESCO ISBN:
978-92-3-100286-1
GRID-Arendal ISBN:
978-82-7701-177-6

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