Glacial tap is open but the water will run dry

Glaciers are retreating at an unexpectedly fast rate according to research done in Peru's Cordillera Blanca by McGill doctoral student Michel Baraer. They are currently shrinking by about one per cent a year, and that percentage is increasing steadily, according to his calculations.

But despite this accelerated glacial shrinking, for the first time, the volume of water draining from the glacier into the Rio Santa in Northern Peru has started to decrease significantly. Baraer, and collaborators Prof. Bryan Mark, at the Ohio State University, and Prof. Jeffrey McKenzie, at McGill, calculate that during the dry season could decrease by as much as 30 per cent lower than they are currently. "When a glacier starts to retreat, at some point you reach a plateau and from this point onwards, you have a decrease in the discharge of melt water from the glacier," explained Baraer.

"Where scientists once believed that they had 10 to 20 years to adapt to reduced runoff, that time is now up," said Baraer. "For almost all the we have studied, we have good evidence that we have passed peak water." This means that the millions of people in the region who depend on the water for electricity, agriculture and drinking water could soon face serious problems because of reduced .


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Provided by McGill University
Citation: Glacial tap is open but the water will run dry (2011, December 20) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2011-12-glacial.html
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Jan 02, 2012
Yeah, I agree Vendy. I've had the pleasure to backpack through Glacier International park up through Canada and then back (all without passports) years back. It was a lot of fun and the scale of beauty of the glaciers is unmatched. Little did I know that 20 years later, it's just a mountain range now. Forrest fires and dried up glacier lakes.

If that isn't all the evidence needed to condemn fossil fuels as a relic of a less technologically advanced period of human history, then perhaps technology has not progressed. Solar is clean, has nearly limitless power, provides for a new economic stability.

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