Earth  ID: 31014

Peru's Shrinking Tropical Ice Caps

Earth’s two largest remaining tropical ice caps are both found in Peru’s Andes Mountains. Until recently, the Quelccaya Ice Cap (5680 m, 18635 ft) was the largest tropical ice mass but due to progressive ice melt, it has recently been surpassed by the glacial ice remaining atop the higher volcanic peaks of Nevado Coropuna (6425 m, 21079 ft).

Using selected Landsat images with no cloud cover and little to no snow allows visualization of the ice area losses and the exposure of bare ice at the lowest elevations of both ice caps between 1975 and 2017. These images also allow the areas of the two ice caps to be estimated. Decades ago, Quelccaya’s ice cover was greater than 70 km2 in extent but is now slightly less than Coropuna’s ice area of 44 km2. Each image in the time series has an area of ~24.3 x 16.4 km.


Amy Moran (GST): Lead Animator
Christopher Shuman (UMBC JCET): Lead Scientist
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NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

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