Venezuela loses its last glacier

glaciers of venezuela

Venezuela occupies a central place in the field of environmental news. While reports of glacier deterioration are disturbing, the implications are even more dire: the nation now joins a select group as the first to witness the complete disappearance of its glaciers in contemporary history. Furthermore, it is expected that other countries will soon face a similar fate.

In this article we are going to tell you how Venezuela loses its last glacier and what consequences it has.

Venezuela loses its last glacier

last glacier venezuela

Goodbye to the last glacier. The nation has said goodbye to its last remaining glacier after a gradual melting process that scientists themselves have acknowledged has reduced it to nothing more than a mere expanse of ice. The only survivor, known as Humboldt Glacier or La Corona, was located near the second highest mountain in the country, Humboldt Peak. At its best, The Crown stretched across 4,5 square kilometers, but now occupies less than 0,02 square kilometers.

It is worth noting that for a land mass to be classified as a glacier it must cover at least 0,1 square kilometres. Therefore, the Humboldt Glacier has lost its "glacier" designation and has been reclassified as an ice field. The last vestiges of Venezuela's glaciers, which once numbered six, have experienced significant decline.

gradual melting

Venezuela loses its last glacier

At the beginning of the XNUMXth century, These majestic mountains covered an extensive area of ​​more than 1.000 square kilometers, and even served as the venue for national cross-country skiing competitions in the 1950s. However, the passage of time has witnessed the gradual deterioration of these glaciers, reducing them to mere remnants of their former icy grandeur. Unfortunately, in 2011, five of these glaciers had already disappeared, failing to meet the necessary criteria for their classification as true glaciers.

Venezuela may be the first country in modern times to lose its glaciers, although other countries had already experienced it after the Little Ice Age. According to climatologist and weather historian Maximiliano Herrera, Indonesia, Mexico and Slovenia are likely to be the next countries to face this loss. Rising temperatures in Mexico could accelerate this process. In an attempt to save the Humboldt Glacier, Venezuela covered it with a geotextile blanket, but this strategy not only failed but also generated criticism from researchers due to the potential pollution it could cause as the blanket decomposed into microplastics.

Climate change and glaciers

Venezuela without glacier

It is necessary to consider the connection between these phenomena and climate change. The explanation to this question is never entirely simple; However, the transformations that occur on Earth serve as a basis for the decline of glaciers. As an example, Climate phenomena such as El Niño, which contribute to high temperatures, are believed to accelerate the melting of tropical glaciers.

After experiencing significant contraction, Venezuela's glacier eventually transformed into an ice field, resulting in the loss of the country's last remaining glacier, scientists determined.

In modern times, Venezuela is considered to be the first nation to have experienced the complete disappearance of its glaciers. Located approximately 5.000 meters above sea level in the Sierra Nevada de Mérida, the country once had six glaciers. However, as of 2011, only one glacier, the Humboldt Glacier, also known as La Corona, remains very close to Humboldt Peak, the second highest mountain in the country.

Due to political unrest in the region, scientists have been unable to monitor the Humboldt Glacier for several years, despite initial projections that it would last at least another decade.

The evaluations carried out have revealed an unexpectedly rapid melting of the glacier, causing its size to decrease to less than 2 hectares. Consequently, its categorization from glacier to ice field has been revised.

According to Maximiliano Herrera, a climatologist and weather historian who documents extreme temperature records online, Venezuela may be the first country to lose its glaciers in contemporary times, while other nations experienced this loss several decades ago following the conclusion of the Little Age. of the Ice.

Other countries will lose glaciers

Herrera predicts that Indonesia, Mexico and Slovenia will soon join the ranks of glacier-free countries. In recent months, unprecedented temperatures have been recorded on the Indonesian island of Papua and in Mexico, which has further accelerated the retreat of glaciers in these regions. Imagine a serene blue lake nestled between towering mountains, its peaks adorned with a pristine blanket of snow.

Growing concern about the flooding of a glacial lake in Peru due to the climate crisis has raised alarm bells in the Andean region. Luis Daniel Llambi, ecologist at Adaptación en Altitud, a climate change adaptation program in the Andes, explained that the Humboldt glacier is experiencing a decrease in surface area without signs of accumulation or expansion, since it lacks an accumulation zone.

In December 2023, during a more recent expedition to the region, they made a surprising discovery. The glacier, which Previously covering 4 hectares during our visit in 2019, it had been reduced to less than 2 hectares. This significant loss can be attributed to the current effects of the El Niño climate phenomenon, which has caused high temperatures. Experts warn that this climate event could accelerate the disappearance of tropical glaciers.

Herrera stated that in the Andean region of Venezuela There have been cases of monthly anomalies that reached +3C/+4C above the 1991-2020 average, a notable fact in such tropical latitudes.

According to Llambi, Venezuela is a reflection of the trend that will develop from north to south, starting with Colombia and Ecuador, followed by Peru and Bolivia, as the glaciers of the Andes continue to retreat.

In light of the country's sad history, we find ourselves at a different moment in history that allows us not only to convey the true and urgent consequences of climate change, but also to examine the colonization of life in extreme circumstances and the transformations that high mountain ecosystems suffer due to climate change.

I hope that with this information you can learn more about how Venezuela loses its last glacier.


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