March 25, 2023

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Persistent symptoms of climate change in the High Andes and Himalayas

Establishing weather stations at such high altitudes requires rigorous planning. It does not mean that accidents are completely excluded.

According to the Appalachian State University climatologist, the trip to Chile overcomes a series of major obstacles. “Organizing this trip amid the Covid-19 pandemic was a huge challenge, requiring prolonged quarantine, frequent testing and implementation of strict protocols to ensure the health and safety of all crew members.” Then, during the trek to the top of the Andes, there were more complications. “We encountered unstable rock slopes and 2-meter-deep snow, which severely limited the ability of horses and mules to transport supplies and equipment to the higher camps,” Perry explains.

The base point for the meteorological station to be set up was at an altitude of 5,800 meters. However, the measuring instrument is at an altitude of 6,500 meters. In 2019, in the same region, other teams supported by National Geographic set up climate observatories at 4,400 meters on Aconcagua, and two more, at 4,400 meters and 5,750 meters, on the neighboring volcano Tupungadito.

“At this time a severe blizzard really trapped the tents, but fortunately, it happened the day after the successful installation of the weather station below the summit of the volcano.”
– says Perry, one of the coordinators of the trip earlier in the year.

For the American climatologist, the personal outcome of the expeditions to Everest and Tupungato Volcano could not be more different, he reports himself.

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

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