Decades ago, the Pastoruri glacier was a thriving mass of ice that used to attract thousands of tourists wanting to see one of the few glaciers in the tropics of South America. Easily accessible by car and a short walk, the glacier was one of the main highlights for visitors to the majestic Cordillera Blanca in Peru. However, with rising global temperatures that has changed.
In the past couple of decades, the glacier has shrunk by half, approximately. Today, it covers a surface of less than one square kilometer and scientists estimate that it will be gone within a decade. The devastating effects of climate change are irreversible at this point, scientists say.
Pastoruri’s shrinking size means that some tourists leave disappointed by the experience, while others don’t even bother to visit. While, on the other hand, locals are facing the growing challenges posed by toxic minerals leaking from the melting ice into water supplies plus a significant decrease in tourism income.
These days, most people just come to see what is left of the shrinking glacier before it completely disappears. And what still remains of the Pastoruri glacier is striking, nonetheless. One can only imagine how magnificent it used to be when it was still thriving.
Also, the surrounding area hosts a stunning variety of vegetation and wildlife. Such as the impressive Puya Raimondii, a giant species from the bromeliad family which can grow to be up to 12 meters (almost 40 feet) tall and live up to one hundred years. These are just a couple of the treasures you can find in the magnificent Huascarán National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The harsh effects of climate change are increasingly reshaping the world around us. As weather patterns continue to be disrupted, we will probably see more cases like the Pastoruri glacier.