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Earth Science

Melting Glaciers Cutting Peru Water Supply 421

Posted by Soulskill
from the just-buy-some-new-glaciers dept.
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "In a story that may repeat itself in all mountainous areas dependent on glaciers for their water supply, the glaciers in Peru's Cordillera Blanca mountain range are melting so quickly (PDF) that the water they supply to the arid region is being threatened 20-30 years earlier than expected. Of the time needed for the region to adapt to the coming water shortages, previously thought to be decades, researchers now believe, 'those years don't exist.'"
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Melting Glaciers Cutting Peru Water Supply

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  • bonanza (Score:5, Interesting)

    by harvey the nerd (582806) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @01:29AM (#38511880)
    This melt off should be an interesting opportunity for archaeology and paleontology. Will such treasures reach back 1000, 5000, 40,000 years?
    • Re: bonanza (Score:5, Informative)

      by riverat1 (1048260) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @02:40AM (#38512256)

      Well, considering that humans didn't arrive in South America until around 15,000 years ago, 40,000 years is out. But more likely most if not all of the area under the glaciers in Peru has never before been seen by human eyes. 15,000 years ago the last glaciation was winding down so the glaciers were probably much bigger than they are now. I doubt those glaciers have ever been significantly smaller since then than they are now.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Well, considering that humans didn't arrive in South America until around 15,000 years ago

        No, that's not an accurate statement. The correct statement is:
        "The oldest evidence of humans in SA was from around 15,000 years ago".

        If we find new evidence which dates further back, we'll revise that number.

        I doubt those glaciers have ever been significantly smaller since then than they are now.

        They have. If you go back far enough in time the planet didn't even exist, let alone glaciers.

    • Re: bonanza (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @03:04AM (#38512378) Homepage Journal

      There have been a couple of stories about 3000 to 5000 year old corpses recovered from these melting glaciers. One of the is famous, but I've forgotten his name. Igwi or something. Ohhh, here, I'll google for a couple stories:

      Ötzi here, in a PDF
      http://geog-www.sbs.ohio-state.edu/courses/g820.01/sp06/alpine_iceman.pdf [ohio-state.edu]

      Incan ice children and others here:
      http://www.mummytombs.com/mummylocator/featured/glacier.htm [mummytombs.com]

    • This melt off should be an interesting opportunity for archaeology and paleontology. Will such treasures reach back 1000, 5000, 40,000 years?

      Possibly. I know there have been instances where parts of mid-Twentieth Century air crashes were recovered (including body parts whose prior owners have been identified). And the Iceman's state of presentation indicates that he had not been melted out since he died ~5000 years ago.

  • by lightknight (213164) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @02:11AM (#38512112) Homepage

    What was their original model / projection? Has anyone else verified it? And if so, what measures will they be taking to supplement their water supply?

    • by ralphdaugherty (225648) <ralph@ee.net> on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @02:30AM (#38512198) Homepage

      What was their original model / projection? Has anyone else verified it? And if so, what measures will they be taking to supplement their water supply?

      They weren't projecting. Scientists were projecting glacier melt rate worldwide. They're all melting.

      Verification so far is watching the glaciers melt faster.

      What measures will a mountain dwelling people take to supplement their loss of glacial water supply? They will lose their way of life, same as anyone else in a permanent drought, say in an extreme example Texas continues it's drought pattern. All it will take is a few more years to destroy life there as they know it.

      But they can always hope rains will return. People dependent on glaciers that vanished have no such hope. Their total ancestral way of life will also have vanished.

      • Scientists were projecting glacier melt rate worldwide. They're all melting.

        Except the ones that are growing....

  • The science was so bad in this report it's already been torn to pieces. http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/12/20/this-is-glacial-tap/ [wattsupwiththat.com]
  • It's not that difficult.

  • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @11:56AM (#38515528)

    Maybe that will put an end to Peru's cholera epidemics (common because Greenpeace convinced them to stop chlorinating their water).

  • by slashkitty (21637) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @01:26PM (#38516670) Homepage
    It does. Governments around the world are planning on spending trillions of dollars and rerouting much of the energy structure in response to these reports. The reports are based on a few computer models and a few more wild predictions [newscientist.com]. The programmers here know that computer programs can be wrong, and we all know the wild predictions can be wrong. We want to see the source code and check things ourselves. The IPCC has not done that, and in fact has hidden the source code.

Air is water with holes in it.

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