A report from Colombia’s Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies (Ideam) rings alarm bells over the future of the Andean nation’s glaciers, which it says could melt within the next 30 years.
Over the last two years Ideam, together with the Ministry for the Environment, analyzed the impact of climate variability resulting from greenhouse gas emissions, and is not optimistic in its predictions.
The document states that the year-round snow on the Ruiz, Tolima and Santa Isabel mountains, as well as those located in the Sierra Nevada del Cocuy, may disappear before 2040.
The report also warns that a rise in sea level of around one meter could occur by 2100, affecting up to 41% of the Colombian Pacific coast’s population with the threat of permanent flooding. The areas classified as critical in this part of the country were Tumaco and Buenaventura. However, it is likely that those living in Nuqui Jurado in the Choco department will also face a similar situation.
Up to 55% of Colombia’s Caribbean coast population could also be exposed to the direct effects of sea flooding, the report predicts. The most populated urban centers in the threatened areas include San Juan de Uraba and Turbo (Antioquia), Puerto Colombia, Barranquilla (Atlantico), Cartagena, and Santa Marta. Another vulnerable area is the island of San Andres, which stands to lose 10% of its size, including many residential areas.
Bogota is advised to improve the care of its surrounding highlands, which are an essential source of much of the capital city’s drinking water. A drop in rainfall is predicted, which could result in serious drought.
The report will serve as an important guide to the Colombian government in formulating strategies to combat climate change. Pilot projects are already operating in the wastelands of Chingaza (Cundinamarca), San Andres and Providencia, and the Colombian Massif. One of their foremost objectives is the control of dengue and malaria, diseases which would be likely to multiply with the country’s estimated 2 degrees Celsius increase in temperature in the next 50 years.