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Crisis at Lake Titicaca | Credits: Google Images
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Crisis at Lake Titicaca: Climate change triggers record-low water levels

United States: The alarming bells are ringing for Lake Titicaca due to climate change and its impacts. Reuters cited the example of a local farmer named Manuel Flores, who shared his concern about the exposure of cracked floors of parts of the lake.

It is to be known that Lake Titicaca is the largest freshwater body in the South American region and the highest navigable lake in the world. The water resource is amid the Andes mountains.

According to the reports by the news agency, he and other locals have been dealing with dried wells and parched crops in the midst of drought. While having a conversation with Reuters, Flores expressed that the communities living on the shores of the lake earlier used boats to commute; however, now, they walk across the dried-up lake bed.

Fredy Aruquipa, the man in charge of Lake Titicaca, told Reuters that he has been watching the decline on a daily basis. He was quoted saying, “The water is going down centimeter by centimeter.”

Lake Titicaca – an essential element for wildlife

According to the reports published by Reuters, the lake is considered an important ecosystem for the region’s wildlife, flora, and fauna. Along with this, the lake has been known to be a water source for the people residing in the nearby area, including the city of El Alto.

Lake Titicaca in Southern America | Credits: NASA

El Nino worsened water levels of Lake Titicaca

According to scientists and experts, the water levels of the lake have reached record lows. The situation has worsened due to the El Nino weather phenomenon – resulting in less rain in the area, which led to deepened and long dry spells.

El Nino phenomenon has intensified because of the extreme weather conditions, which have been becoming more frequent and common because of climate change.

Dried Lake Titicaca | Credits AFP via Getty Images

Farmer Flores, while sharing his experience, expressed, “I am 50 years old. Never before has Lake Titicaca dried up like it is now. This affects us because there is no more food for our livestock and we cannot travel by boat.”

He added, “Now we have to walk and our crops no longer exist because it hasn’t rained since last year.”

The farmers and experts have raised concerns about the drought condition, which has been approaching new critical levels, affecting agricultural practices in the region. One of the farmers expressed that lack of rain during early December may result in no potato plantation, which is one of the essential food staples for the rural communities of Bolivia.

A man walking on the dried Lake Titicaca | Credits: AP

Emphasizing the prime reasons behind the declining water levels from the shoreline of Lake Titicaca, experts highlighted that this had been caused by lack of rain, rapidly increasing temperature, and receding of the Andean glaciers – the major water source for the lake, according to Reuters.

Moreover, various experts have underscored that various factors linked to climate change are behind the shrinking of Lake Titicaca.

What experts have to say?

The reports by news agency claimed that an aquatic systems specialist with French Research Institute IRD – Xavier Lazzaro, said, “Ninety-five percent of the water loss from the lake is due to evaporation, which shows that this is totally or almost totally caused by climate change.”

The changes in the water bodies are monitored and surveyed by MapBiomas Agua, who mentioned that rivers and lagoons in Bolivia have experienced a drop of around 39 percent. Accordingly, the decline has been recorded following increased global temperature – directly or indirectly impacting rivers, lakes and glaciers between the United States and Asia.

Along with this, an official from a local NGO – Friends of Nature Foundation (FAN), Rodney Camargo, stated, “There are many factors, many causes,” as per Reuters.

He continued, “On one hand, we have local causes that we know about: deforestation, fires, human activity, large dams, which have an effect. In global terms, we have climate change and phenomena such as El Nino and La Nina, which cause floods and droughts.”

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