Half a century of glacier mass balance at Cordilleras Blanca and Huaytapallana, Peruvian Andes

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David Clark


The glaciers of the tropical Andes have been observed to be losing mass for much of the last century. These changes are both driven by, and an indicator of global climate change. These glaciers are important as they represent a crucial water source for downstream communities, buffering dry season discharge variations. Glacial recession also presents a hazard risk, exposing steep slopes and increasing the risk of glacial lake outburst floods (GLOF). This study aims to quantify glacial mass loss for the Cordillera Blanca (CB) and Cordillera Huaytapallana (CH) andthe associated changes in meteorology and hydrology. In order to do this Landsat imagery is used to identify glaciers, alongside repeat DEMs from satellite altimetry and historic maps, used to measure glacier surface elevation changes from 1972-2018. Analysis of
meteorological data was used to identify the key forcing factors of glacial mass balance. The results of this study show that the glaciers of CB (-0.45±0.09 myr-1 w.e) and CH (-0.48±0.20 myr-1 w.e) have undergone substantial mass loss. Variation in this mass balance was observed on different glacier aspects and elevations as well as over the different time periods studied. Meteorological analysis identified a negative relationship between CB mass balance and temperature and precipitation with a positive relationship with humidity. For CH a negative relationship with precipitation and temperature was found. No change in Rio Santa discharge was identified with no change in the contribution from glacial melt.




Earth Sciences, Glaciology, Physical Sciences and Mathematics


Glaciology, Blanca, Glacier, Huaytapallana, Peru


Published: 2020-01-01 15:42

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GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) 2.1

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