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Modeling Future Lakes in Glacier Beds

First Experiences in Peru

Climate change has caused a dramatic reduction in glacier extent and volume. In Peru, the second National Glacier Inventory documents an overall loss in glacier-covered area of 42.64% in comparison to the total of 2041.85 km2 found in the first inventory of 1970. Glacier retreat can lead to the formation of new lakes in exposed glacier-bed overdeepenings. These lakes can amplify natural hazards to downstream populations but can also become tourist attractions and new possibilities for water management at local, regional or basin level. As new and larger reservoirs of fresh water, these lakes could supply benefits to, for example, populations, hydropower and agriculture. Identifying sites of possible future lake formation is thus an essential step in early planning of disaster risk management measures, adaptation to climate change and integrated management of water resources. This planning should therefore already take into account the formation of new high-mountain landscapes with changing ecosystems in the long term.

This publication is a pioneering work that compiles and locates possible future lakes in Peru. It was conducted by the Unidad de Glaciología y Recursos Hídricos (Glacier and Water Resources Unit, UGRH) of the Autoridad Nacional de Agua (National Water Authority, ANA), and continued by the Instituto Nacional de Investigación en Glaciares y Ecosistemas de Montaña (National Institute for Research in Glaciers and Mountain Ecosystems, INAIGEM). The team of the Glaciares+ Project, initiative of the Global Climate Change Program of the Swiss Cooperation (COSUDE), has accompanied and assisted in this process.