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Megaseca in the Andes leaves mountaintops without snow

Megaseca in the Andes leaves mountaintops without snow

The Andes, which have long drawn skiers to the South American continent, are facing a historic decrease in snowfall this year during a decade-long drought that scientists say is the result of global warming.

Little rain and snow in many of the majestic mountains, which stretch between Ecuador and Argentina, have caused irregular patches of snow, or no snow at all, with brown ground exposed to the peaks.

With rain and glaciers falling across the region, communities that depend on mountains for water supplies may suffer from shortages, said Ricardo Villalba, principal investigator at the Argentine Institute of Snow, Glacier and Environmental Sciences Studies.

“Here we are seeing a long-term process of rainfall, massive drought,” Villalba said.

“If we look at the levels of precipitation now for the entire mountain range, it shows that either it has not snowed at all, or it has fallen very little,” the scientist noted.

The Southern Hemisphere is currently going through winter, when it should have peak snowfall.

Ski resorts have reopened after an extended shutdown during the pandemic, and they are drawing homesick skiers to the Argentine-Chilean border. But the snowfall forces many resorts to move snow to cover the most popular slopes or make artificial snow.

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