decades of drought and depressed rainfall related to a human-forced
warming of the globe, the once-massive lake is now gone. Once
measuring 90 by 32 kilometers and covering an area of over 1,000
square kilometers this second largest lake in all of Boliviahas
turned into a dried out disaster zone.
Cracked, baked earth, overturned and abandoned boats, and the
desiccated remains of lake life are all that are left as sign to the
fact that a giant lake once existed. The flamingos, fish and other
wildlife that relied on the lake are now dead or long gone. Yet more
lonely casualties of a climate changed radically by an incessant
burning of fossil fuels.
climate change is implicated in Bolivia’s loss of Lake Poopo. Video
a decade ago, the rainy season in this region of the Altiplano
Mountains began to dry up. Rainfall became less regular and the great
Lake Poopo — important to locals for its supply of fish and
wildlife — began to fade away. By 2015, record global temperatures
and El Nino conditions had again pushed the rainy season back. By
January of 2016, one month into the typical rainy season, no rains
had yet fallen and the great lake had dried up completely.
ongoing drying impacts related to warming have been impeding the flow
of water into Lake Poopo for decades. The first time the lake dried
out was back in 1994. The lake subsequently took more than three
years to re-fill. But it has never fully recovered.
Poopo before and after. A merciless and ongoing decadal drought has
caused lake Poopo to turn into a dried up desert. Image source: Earth
Outlook Looks Pretty Amazingly Bad
Bolivia occupies a region very vulnerable to the human-forced warming
of our world, the current drying of Lake Poopo may last longer than
the 1994 event or, perhaps, indefinitely. Bolivian officials seem
determined to restore water to the lake — estimating that such a
project would require the diversion of other sources along with a 150
million dollar investment.
this changing local and global environment, any lake restoration
efforts will meet with extremely severe challenges. Over the next two
decades, global temperatures may spike above 1.5 C above 1880s
averages and the Amazon may be well on its way to collapse. It’s
difficult to imagine that many lakes and rivers would survive such
brutal conditions, much less the very vulnerable Lake Poopo.