About 70% of the world’s tropical glaciers, already a rarity, are located in the highlands of Peru. But they are rapidly disappearing. Changes in Peru’s glacier area have been the focus of several research studies; one such study, in the journal The Cryosphere (published Sept. 30, 2019), reported a drastic reduction of almost 30% in the area covered by glaciers between 2000 and 2016.

The Cordillera Vilcanota and the tropical Andes are warming faster than the global average. Warming at extreme altitudes higher than 12,000 feet is expected to amplify with the disappearance of many glaciers by the mid-21st century.

Two scientists from Washington University are reconstructing past climate and cultural shifts in the Peruvian Andes. Today, such high-altitude parts of the tropics are warming faster than the rest of the globe. What Bronwen Konecky and Sarah Baitzel discover could help predict how the people and animals in this delicate ecosystem might be affected in the future.