ANTISANA, Ecuador – The glacier that covers the peak of Ecuador’s Antisana volcano is shrinking at a faster rate as global temperatures climb and the process could soon reach a point of no return, a researcher with the National Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology (Inamhi) told EFE.
Antisana, which rises 5,758 meters (18,880-feet) in the Ecuadorian Andes, is less than an hour’s drive from Quito and meltwater from the mountain supplies some 650,000 capital residents.
The glacier has lost roughly 350 meters (1,150 feet) in the last 20 years due to climate change, according to Inahmi’s Luis Maisincho.
The pace of the shrinking has been accelerating since the 1970s and models indicate that if the trend continues, the ice-line will retreat from its current level, 4,850 meters (15,900 feet), to 5,300 meters (17,380 feet), he said.
At some point, Maisincho warned, the ice loss will become “irreversible.”
Spain’s ambassador to Ecuador, Carlos Abella y de Aristegui, who recently visited Antisana along with colleagues from other European Union nations, said that while human activity can be destructive, it can also be harnessed for protection of the environment.
The purpose of the diplomats’ trip to the mountain was to exhort people “to make the planet green again” and to highlight the damage already done to the Antisana glacier.