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Latin America and the Caribbean

27. Rapid retreat of glaciers in the Cordillera Blanca (Peru)

There is now ample evidence to support a major retreat of most mountain glaciers during the last 100 years in response to widespread increases in temperature. In recent decades, the rate of glacial recession has increased tremendously.  (Houghton et al 2001 )

Mountain glaciers supply moisture to mountain forests during thedry and warm seasons. With retreating mountain glaciers, the risk of forest fires increases, with a subsequent reduction of forested areas. Smaller glaciers and diminishing forests lead to the drying up of rivers downstream during the dry seasons. Precipitation will more often come as rain during the winterand wash away at once instead of being stored as snow and then melt in the dry summer season. (McCarthy et al 2001)