Signs of climate change persist in the high Andes and the Himalayas

Installing weather stations in these high altitude areas requires rigorous planning. This does not mean that mishaps have been completely ruled out.

According to a climate scientist at Appalachian State University, the expedition to Chile involved overcoming a series of major obstacles. “The biggest challenge was organizing the expedition amid the Covid-19 pandemic, which required prolonged quarantine, frequent testing and implementation of strict protocols to ensure the health and safety of all team members.” Then, during the same trip towards the top of the Andes, there were more problems. “We encountered unstable cliffs and two meters of snow, which severely limited the ability of horses and mules to transport supplies and equipment to higher camps,” Berry explains.

The base point elevation of the weather station was 5800 meters. Measurement equipment, however, is at an altitude of 6,500 metres. In 2019, in the same area, other teams with support from National Geographic set up climate monitoring centers at 4,400 m, in Aconcagua, and two more, at 4,400 m and 5,750 m, at the nearby volcano, Topongateto.

“A heavy snowstorm actually trapped us in tents this time, but fortunately, it happened the next day to work on the successful installation of a weather station just below the volcano’s summit.”
– says Berry, one of the coordinators of the campaign that was carried out at the beginning of the year.

For an American climatologist, the personal outcome of expeditions to Everest and the Tupungato volcano could not be different, as he himself says.

“Climate change in these real water towers is not an abstract concept. It is a process that is already causing direct impacts on water resources that support hundreds of millions of people. So there is an urgent need not only to mitigate future climate change, but also to adapt to changes in terms of water availability. “.

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