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Posts tagged Altiplano

Climate Change’s Impacts on Lake Poopó, Bolivia: Reduced Area and Biodiversity – July 1st, 2013

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July 1st, 2013 Category: Climate Change, Image of the day, Lakes, Salt Flats VIIRSSuomi-NPP

Bolivia – June 28th, 2013

Visible high on the Bolivian altiplano are the green waters of Lake Poopó and the bright white surface of the Salar de Uyuni. Lake Poopó’s area has decreased by 50% in the last 25 years, with serious consequences for the populations of resident and migratory waterbirds.

The lake is located at approximately 3700 m above sea level, covering an approximate area of 967,000 ha, making it the second biggest lake in Bolivia, after Lake Titicaca (visible in the upper part of the full image), which is shared with Peru. However, in only 25 years its area has decreased by about 17,400 ha, representing almost 50% of its total area.

The decrease in the wetland’s area of open water has been attributed principally to climate change, which, in conjunction with current hydrological conditions (high rates of evaporation, low rainfall, and low flow rates of the rivers flowing into the lake), mean that water levels in the lake are not rising. This has had serious impacts on the biodiversity which depends on the wetland, given that the salinity has increased, thus decreasing survival rates of some species, with subsequent consequences in the local economy.

The change in size of the wetland has represented a considerable loss of available habitat for migratory bird species, for which the lake represents an important habitat, especially during the dry season (May to September), coinciding with the southern winter. However, drastic decreases in the populations of these species have been detected since 2007. Preliminary results suggest that the reason for this decline is the loss of available habitat as a result of the reduced area of Lake Poopó, and the accumulation of solid waste around the shores of the lake (click here for more information).

 

Diverse Vegetation of Bolivia

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April 17th, 2013 Category: Salt Flats

Bolivia – April 16th, 2013

Bolivia has a huge degree of biodiversity, considered one of the greatest in the world; as well as several ecoregions with such ecological subunits as the Altiplano, tropical rainforests (including Amazon rainforest), dry valleys, and the Chiquitania, which is a tropical savanna. All of these feature enormous variations in altitude, from an elevation of 6,542 meters above sea level in Nevado Sajama, to nearly 70 meters along the Paraguay River.

Here, green vegetation can be seen northeast of the Andes Mountains, in Bolivia, in the tropical, forested portion of the country. Across the mountains, however, lies the arid, sparsely vegetated altiplano portion of the nation, which includes the bright white salt flats of the Salar de Uyuni.

Climate Change and Lake Poopó Water Levels, Bolivia

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March 21st, 2013 Category: Climate Change, Lakes, Rivers

Bolivia – March 20th, 2013

Lake Poopó is a large saline lake located in a shallow depression in the Altiplano Mountains in Bolivia at an altitude of approximately 3,700 metres. The lake receives most of its water from the Desaguadero River which flows from Lake Titicaca at the north end of the Altiplano. Here, the water flowing in from the river appears darker than the bright green waters of the rest of the lake.

Since the Lake Poopó lacks any major outlet and has a mean depth of no more than 3 m, its surface area varies greatly. Scientists have recently done studies to determine whether the variability in water level is strongly connected to the influx of water from Lake Titicaca (visible in the full image). By analyzing satellite data and climate fields over a ten year period, it was discovered that over the time span of 2000-2009 a great part of the variability of the Poopó system originated from geographic sources other than Lake Titicaca.

Possible alternative causes include climate change inducing increased temperatures and greater evaporation rates along the Altiplano; increased glacier and snow melting over the Andes Cordillera; and a potential increased anthropogenic water use (such as irrigation, minery, etc.) throughout the path of the Desaguadero River (which connects lakes Titicaca and Poopó). This change in the hydrology of this region could lead to a collapse of water supplies and endanger the already fragile Poopó system as well as the regional socioeconomic system, which closely depends upon it (click here for more information).

Andes Mountains Separating Altiplano and Gran Chaco, Bolivia

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September 16th, 2012 Category: Fires, Lakes, Mountains, Salt Flats

Bolivia and Peru – August 31st, 2012

The ridges of the Andes Mountains mark the division between two starkly contrasting regions in Bolivia: the arid altiplanto (left) and the hot and semi-arid lowlands of the Gran Chaco (sometimes referred to as the Chaco Plain). Visible by the left edge are the bright white salt flats of the Salar de Uyuni and the greenish waters of Lake Poopó. Of note in the upper right corner is smoke from fires that have been affecting the country recently (click here for previous images).

Vivid Colors of Lake Poopó and the Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia – May 29th, 2012

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May 29th, 2012 Category: Image of the day, Lakes, Salt Flats

Bolivia - May 28th, 2012

Visible north of the immaculate white salt flats of the Salar de Uyuni is a brightly colored green and brown body of water: Lake Poopó. It a large saline lake located in a shallow depression in the Altiplano Mountains in Bolivia, at an altitude of approximately 3,700 metres. The lake is long and wide (90 km by 32 km), and the permanent part of the lake body covers approximately 1,000 km².

The lake receives most of its water from the Desaguadero River which flows from Lake Titicaca at the north end of the Altiplano. The vivid coloring in this image is due to the influx of sediments from the river and the growth of algae. Since the lake lacks any major outlet and has a mean depth of no more than 3 m, the surface area varies greatly. The lake has been designated as a site for conservation under the Ramsar Convention.

 

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