South America Archives - Page 2 of 3 - State of the Planet

Ancient mud from the high Andes

Thanks in large part to Matt, an undergraduate from Pacific Lutheran University in Washington, our field team now has more than sixty samples for surface-exposure dating. This is no easy feat, for collecting these samples requires a great deal of hammering on granite boulders with nothing more than a hammer and chisel. There are other ways of doing it, such as using small explosive charges, rock saws, or splitting wedges, but we find that good old-fashioned hammering is by far the safest way.

by |July 8, 2011

A typical day in the high Andes

Each morning starts the same in the Andes: the frost is heavy on the insides of our tents and falls with the slightest movement, while the realization that it´s going to be a freezing exit from the sleeping bag is tempered by gratitude that the thirteen hour night is over. Yes, sunrise in the Andes is a momentous occasion each day, one that feels a million miles away from home.

by |July 2, 2011

Foreigners in a Strange Land

After a very cold morning in Crucero, the sun burned off the clouds to reveal the black peaks of the Cordillera Carabaya to the east. There´s not so much snow left on the hills these days, just a few glacier patches clinging to the south faces of the highest summits.

by |June 26, 2011

Into Thin(ner) Air – On Route to the Cordillera Carabaya

This morning we left Arequipa and the comforts of the tourist trail, driving east across the puna towards the Andes proper. Our route took us along the newly constructed Caraterra Interoceanica – a highway linking the Pacific coast of Peru to ports in Brazil – and up to elevations of 4700 m. Along the way we passed the smoking Volcan Ubinas, Peru’s most active volcano, and the enormous inland sea of Lake Titicaca.

by |June 23, 2011

At the Feet of El Misti

What a difference a day makes! We’ve said goodbye to the sprawling metropolis of Lima and now are happily settled in Arequipa – the White City. This name refers to the white sillar rock used in the construction of the old colonial city and which is in fact a pyroclastic deposit from the volcanoes towering above us. From our hotel room I can see the massive bell-shaped peak of El Misti (5800 m), the only active volcano of the group, and it’s looking particularly snowy this year.

by |June 22, 2011

Off to Lima, World’s Second Largest Desert City

18th June 2011  Lima, Peru Our 2011 field season is underway. After a full day’s travel from New York, we arrived in Lima, the capital of Peru. This sprawling city perched on the edge of the Pacific Ocean is home to more than nine million people and, after Cairo, is the largest desert city in… read more

by |June 20, 2011

Deciphering Past Climate Change in the High Andes

High above the tropical lowlands, the Andes form a formidable topographic barrier separating the coastal deserts in the west from the Amazon rainforest to the east. The Peruvian Andes are the highest peaks in all the tropics and, despite their proximity to the equator, are mantled with snow and ice. However, the glaciers clinging to… read more

by |June 19, 2011

To the tip of the Andes

In the semi-arid Andes, glaciers store water and control the runoff of mountain rivers. They feed water to big cities such as Lima and Arequipa and irrigate the surrounding lowlands. But as the planet warms, mountain glaciers in the tropics are receding steadily. Despite their paramount importance, we don’t know the scale and the rate… read more

by |June 17, 2011

Understanding the ‘Rain’ in Rainforest

There is increasing evidence that forests – and subsequently, deforestation – may have impacts on global water cycles.

by |October 7, 2010

Peruvians Fight for Their Right to Water

On September 17, one man was killed and 18 others injured when police attempted to break up demonstrators protesting an irrigation project recently approved by the Peruvian government.

by |October 4, 2010