Venezuela Poised to Become the First Country to Lose All of Its Glaciers to Climate Change

Pam Wright
Published: November 21, 2017

Venezuela is poised to become the first country in modern times to lose all of its glaciers.

According to ZME Science, five glaciers once dotted the South American country, but today only one remains — the Humboldt glacier. In fact, within the next 10 to 20 years, the glacier will completely disappear as climate change continues to alter the world as we know it.

The glacier lies on Pico Humboldt, Venezuela’s second highest peak at 16,207 feet above sea level, in the Sierra Nevada de Mérida mountain range. Over the past 30 years, it has lost 90 percent of its mass and will continue to do so until it disappears, researchers say.

"This is a tragedy that should be highlighted as one more consequence of irresponsible behavior in energy-intense economies," Walter Vergara, a forest and climate specialist, told GlacierHub.

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According to Juan Carlos Sánchez, co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his work within the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Venezuela is extremely vulnerable to climate change because of its unstable terrains and population distribution along coastal lines.

Precisely when the glacier will disappear is difficult to determine, scientists say. Political strife in the country, among other factors, has forced researchers to rely primarily on satellite imagery to evaluate the glacier rather than on-the-ground observations. 


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