Accelerating Glacier Area Loss Across the Andes Since the Little Ice Age

Jonathan L. Carrivick, Morwenna Davies, Ryan Wilson, Bethan J. Davies, Tom Gribbin, Owen King, Antoine Rabatel, Juan‐luis García, Jeremy C. Ely

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Andean glaciers are losing mass rapidly but a centennial-scale context to those rates is lacking. Here we show the extent of >5,500 glaciers during the Little Ice Age chronozone (LIA; c. 1,400 to c. 1,850) and compute an overall area change of −25% from then to year 2000 at an average rate of −36.5 km2 yr−1 or −0.11% yr−1. Glaciers in the Tropical Andes (Peru, Bolivia) have depleted the most; median −56% of LIA area, and the fastest; median −0.16% yr−1. Up to 10 × acceleration in glacier area loss has occurred in Tropical mountain sub-regions comparing LIA to 2,000 rates to post-2000 rates. Regional climate controls inter-regional variability, whereas local factors affect intra-region glacier response time. Analyzing glacier area change by river basins and by protected areas leads us to suggest that conservation and environmental management strategies should be re-visited as proglacial areas expand.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2024GL109154
Number of pages12
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number13
Early online date30 Jun 2024
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jul 2024

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