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As a consequence of ongoing atmospheric temperature rise, tropical glaciers belong to the unique and threatened ecosystems on Earth, as defined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Houghton and others, 2001). Worldwide glacier monitoring, especially as part of the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS), includes the systematic collection of data on such perennial surface ice masses. Several peaks in the sierras of Colombia have lost their glacier cover during recent decades. Today, high-altitude glaciers still exist in Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, in Sierra Nevada del Cocuy and on the volcanoes of Nevados del Ruiz, de Santa Isabel, del Tolima and del Huila. Comparison of reconstructions of maximum glacier area extent during the Little Ice Age with more recent information from aerial photographs and satellite images clearly documents a fast-shrinking tendency and potential disappearance of the remaining glaciers within the next few decades. In the past 50 years, Colombian glaciers have lost 50% or more of their area. Glacier shrinkage has continued to be strong in the last 15 years, with a loss of 10-50% of the glacier area. The relationship between fast glacier retreat and local, regional and global climate change is now being investigated. Preliminary analyses indicate that the temperature rise of roughly 1° C in the last 30 years recorded at high-altitude meteorological stations exerts a primary control on glacier retreat. The investigations on the Colombian glaciers thus corroborate earlier findings concerning the high sensitivity of glaciers in the wet inner tropics to temperature rise. To improve understanding of fast glacier retreat in Colombia, a modern monitoring network has been established according to the multilevel strategy of the Global Terrestrial Network for Glaciers (GTN-G) within GCOS. The observations are also contributions to continued assessments of hazards from the glacier-covered volcanoes and to integrated global change research in mountain biosphere reserves.
|Item Type:||Journal Article, refereed, original work|
|Communities & Collections:||07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography|
|DDC:||910 Geography & travel|
|Deposited On:||21 Jul 2012 01:12|
|Last Modified:||27 Nov 2013 17:53|
|Publisher:||International Glaciological Society|
|Citations:||Web of Science®. Times cited: 12|
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