A cannon sprays artifical snow on a ski slope at El Colorado skiing center, in the Andes, some 30km from Santiago. (Photo: AFP/Martin Bernetti) Just a few decades ago, the Andes mountain range could be buried under 4m of snow, forcing the closure of access roads and requiring the use of tractors to get around. But this year, it’s snowed only three times in the Chilean Andes, and never more than 30cm. It’s not just Chile affected, but the whole of the Andes where the area of snow cover in the central zone has diminished by 5 per cent to 10 per cent each decade, according to Raul Cordero, an academic at the University of Santiago. “But it’s not just snow cover that’s decreasing, the thickness of the snow cover is also reducing,” he said. “So when we talk about a decrease of the cover of five to 10 per cent, this probably signifies a much greater reduction in the volume of available snow over the Andes.” Rising temperatures mean the snow line – above which snow never melts all year round – keeps creeping upwards. The snow melt is even more pronounced in the central zone due to pollution… Read full this story
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