Quelccaya Ice Cap is An Awe-Inspiring Sight!
When you see it from above, is Quelccaya Ice Cap an awe-inspiring sight of massive ice fields and blue-white glaciers at an average altitude of 18,600 feet. It is the largest ice masses in the tropics. The ranges of those Andes Mountains have different names in many countries in the tropical area of Latin America.
Quelccaya Ice Sheet covers an area of 44 square kilometres in the Cordillera Oriental mountain range, central of the Andes in southern Peru. The complete area of the glacier in Peru has shrunk from 2042 square kilometres in the last decades.
Tropical rainforests under the range of those shared mountains stretch on and over some of the heights in the area.
The ice has dominated the Andes peaks for thousands of years and has provided large and small rivers with water.
Quelccaya Ice Cap feeds some important rivers in Peru. Rivers run in the country include Rimac River, Mantaro River, Santa River, Urubamba River (Vilcanota), Ucayali River, Madre de Dios River, Tambopata River, Apurimac River and Huallaga River.
The vast quantities of ice on the Quelccaya Ice Sheet have equipped researchers with useful rich data on precipitation and temperatures since 1,500 years back in time.
Scientists have studied it and it enabled them to identify and calculate the annual snowfall from the earliest Andean civilizations.
Runoff from Quelccaya Ice Cap is vital for large parts of the Peruvian population. Farmers use the water of the mountain glaciers to irrigate their crops. They grow wheat and potatoes and Peruvian farmers cultivate considerable quantity of potatoes.
The Quelccaya Ice Cap also feeds dams by water and in big cities like Cuzco and Lima icecap provides residents with drinking water and electricity through hydroelectric dams.
By now, around two million people out of Lima's nearly nine million people live without access to public free and fresh water supply. Therefore, they are forced to buy water and pay high prices for it every day. They will be the first who experience the effects of water shortages.
Quelccaya Ice Sheet is no longer an inexhaustible water resource. It lost 20% of its area since 1978, and the rate of the decrease is accelerating. The once stable water flow has been erratic.
Within the next 30-50 years, the Quelccaya Ice Cap will probably completely disappear due to global warming. It will leave millions of Peruvians without a reliable water supply and the Andes peaks will be without their white beautiful cover.
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