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Viewings: 3659Interdisciplinary research group that received $1 million from the National science Foundation, will try to clarify the fate of glaciers in the Andes. Hydrologists, geochemists, geographers and historians (mainly from the USA and Canada) should answer the question, how will the melting ice on the water supply of millions of people living in South America.
Peru has the largest weight of tropical glaciers in the world. They are mainly concentrated in the Cordillera Blanca (White mountains) is the most densely covered with glaciers mountain massif in the tropics. Ridge feeds the river valley of the Rio Santa Callejon de Huaylas. On this area and focus the full at the moment, a study of melting glaciers and its consequences. The obtained data will help in the creation of models and other drainage basins (the Andes, Himalayas and so on).
While the prognosis is mixed. The river will dry up during the dry season. But with the growth of demand for water for drinking, irrigation and electricity production price of this resource will grow, aggravated conflicts. It is necessary in the shortest terms to take effective measures.
Using a set of tools specialists study the ice, rock and lake Kochirakoso, situated at a height of 4 600 m just below the glacier on mount Pecaranda, warm during the day and cool at night. Correlation of the obtained data with measurements of ice thickness using satellites and airplanes will allow to create the model and to give the forecast rate of retreat of glaciers. Previous studies showed that since 1970 the local glaciers decreased by 20-30%, and the rate of loss is increasing. Now it is 3% per year.
Because rainfall over the last decades practically did not change, it remains to blame global warming: 1970-ies the region warmed on average by 0.1 C per decade. Glaciers above 5 400 m above sea level, will fall away, but will survive and lower doomed. The latter has already lost twice as much weight than the top.
This is bad news for local residents, for glaciers serve as a buffer, absorbing heavy rainfall in the rainy season and slowly releasing water in the dry season from June to September when there is almost no rain. The analysis of concentration of stable isotopes of oxygen and hydrogen, as well as several types of ions that water picks, washing the edge of the glacier, showed that in the dry season glacier is responsible for approximately 30% of the waters of the Rio Santa.
Alas, Peru still no comprehensive plan to tackle the shortage of water in the Callejon de Wallace. Some say that it is necessary to create a reservoir under the dry season, others indicate that in the region with frequent earthquakes it is pointless. There's the opposite problem: sometimes the water is too much - for example, when the water falls large block of ice. Since the 1940s, flash floods and avalanches killed more than 25 thousand residents of the valley.
The first serious conflict over water shortage erupted in 2008, when farmers have blocked shield shutter dam lake hydropower Paron. The confrontation lasted for two years. In the future in those places is planned to organize a gold mine, and local afraid that their fields will remain only slightly dirty water.
An even more complicated situation on the ocean, where recently a project to transform the desert into a blossoming garden". Now from the river water is diverted for irrigation 75 thousand hectares, and after a while plantation area will be doubled. When the ice melts, in the dry season, the river will never get to these places...
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