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Venezuela’s Last Glacier Melts Away Grim Milestone in the Fight Against Climate Change

In a stark symbol of climate change’s impact, Venezuela has become the first nation to lose all its glaciers, marking a somber milestone in the battle against global warming. Once boasting six glaciers spanning 1,000 square kilometers in 1910, the country now stands devoid of these icy formations, reduced to mere remnants unable to meet glacier classification criteria.

The Humboldt glacier, or La Corona, nestled in the Sierra Nevada National Park, was the last to resist the thawing trend. Yet, its decline has been precipitous, with the once sprawling 4.5 square kilometer expanse reduced to less than 0.02 square kilometers, falling far short of the minimum size for glacier status.

Professor Julio Cesar Centeno of the University of the Andes (ULA) lamented, “In Venezuela, glaciers no longer exist,” highlighting the drastic reduction to a mere 0.4 percent of their original size.

Research spanning five years revealed a staggering 98 percent decline in glacial coverage from 1953 to 2019, with the rate of loss accelerating rapidly after 1998, reaching a peak of 17 percent per year from 2016 onward.

La Corona, which covered 0.6 square kilometers in 1998, was already teetering on the edge of losing its glacier status by 2015. Recent expeditions confirm its continued retreat, with approximately two hectares lost since 2019.

Despite efforts by the Venezuelan government to protect the Humboldt glacier, such as covering it with a geotextile blanket in December, these measures proved ineffective and raised concerns about environmental contamination.

The loss of Venezuela’s glaciers underscores the urgent need for global action on climate change. As temperatures rise, glaciers worldwide face similar fates, posing severe threats to ecosystems and communities dependent on their freshwater reserves.

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