Bolivia's Second Largest Lake Disappears

 

Lake Poopó, Bolivia's second largest lake, has disappeared almost completely. It has been reduced to only 2% of its original size. Climate changemining and agriculture have dried up the lake and left vast salt plains.

Lake Poopó , located in the flat highlands of the Altiplano , had an original size of about 3000 square kilometres. The lake was very shallow and its water level has always fluctuated. Lake Poopó already disappeared once, in 1994, but water came back to the area a few years later. Environmentalists now fear that water may never come back to the lake.

Bolivia's second largest lake was an important fishing area for locals. In the past few years hundreds of people have lost their source of income. Many young people have left the area in search of new jobs. Only the older people want to stay.

There are several factors that have contributed to the lake's disappearance. The most important one is climate change. Bolivia has been hit by severe droughts, probably caused by the current El Nino event. In additionglaciers of the Andes are disappearing, cutting off Lake Poopó's  water source. Mining companies have been diverting water from the region for the past 30 years and excessive farming has lowered the ground water level.

 

Climate experts say that the Bolivian highlands may be in for a dramatic change.  The rainy season, normally from December to March, has brought lower than normal rainfall over the past years. This has also had an effect on the region's wildlife.  According to biologists, 75% of all bird species are gone from the area around the lake.

 

Lake Popoo

Satellite image of Lake Popoo

 

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Words

  • according to = as said by ...
  • agriculture = farming
  • Altiplano = flat region between mountain ranges in the middle of Bolivia
  • cause = the reason why something has happened
  • completely = totally
  • contribute = to help cause a certain situation
  • current = right now, at the moment
  • cut off = here: stop the flow of
  • disappear = to go away completely
  • divert = to cause something to change its direction
  • drought = long period of very dry weather with little or no rainfall
  • effect = the result of something that happened
  • environmentalist = person who cares about the world around us and wants to do something to save it
  • excessive = too much
  • fear = to be afraid
  • fluctuate = change a lot
  • glacier = large mass of ice that slowly moves down a mountain
  • ground water = underground water that is in soil and rocks
  • highlands = flat areas high up in the mountains
  • in addition = also
  • locals = people who live there
  • located = to be found
  • lower = to make lower
  • mining = digging coal and other minerals out of the earth, so that they can be used in industries
  • reduce = to make smaller
  • salt plains = flat area in which salt and other minerals come up from below the surface if there is not enough  rain.
  • search = look for
  • several = many
  • severe = very strong
  • size = how big something is
  • shallow = not deep
  • source of income = what you do in order to get money
  • species =group of animals or plants that are like each other
  • vast = very large
  • wildlife = animals and plants that grow and live in nature