24 Jan 2013

Glaciers in Andes shrinking

6:14 am on 24 January 2013

A new study has found that glaciers in the Andes have shrunk by 30% - 50% since the 1970s.

The researchers blame a rise in temperatures of 0.7 degree for what they call unprecedented glacier retreat.

The study included data on about half of all Andean glaciers and blamed the melting on an average temperature rise of 0.7C from 1950-1994.

However, the researchers also said there was little change in the amount of rainfall in the region over the last few decades and so could not account for changes in glacier retreat.

Details appear in Cryosphere, an academic journal.

The BBC reports it says Glaciers at altitudes below 5400m have lost about 1.35m in ice thickness per year since the late 1970s, twice the rate of the larger, high-altitude glaciers.

The Chacaltaya glacier in the Bolivian Andes, which was once a ski run, is reported to have nearly disappeared completely.