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Bolivia’s second largest lake turning into a salt desert

Staff writer ▼ | December 19, 2015
Bolivia’s second largest lake, Poopo, in the Andine region, is turning into a desert as a result of climate change, El Niño and La Niña phenomena and mining pollution, researchers warned.
Lake Poopo
Ecology   As a result of climate change
Poopo is the largest lake after Titicaca, which Bolivia shares with Peru.

Agricultural engineer Milton Perez, from Oruro Technical University, and peasant leader Valerio Rojas told EFE during an inspection on Friday that Poopo today “is a lake without life.”

According to Perez, the lake ecosystem is very fragile, with a depth of only 1.5 to 4 meters (5 to 13 feet), and its waters have reduced due to various climate related phenomena including rise in temperature due to global warming and increased effects of El Niño and La Niña that are now felt in the highlands every two or three years instead of the usual seven or 10 years.

Lake Poopo had six or seven years of dynamic equilibrium, Perez said, adding he is not sure whether “there will be sufficient time to re-establish, in a natural manner, the ecosystem it used to be.”

Oruro newspaper La Patria reported an aerial viewing of the site that revealed it had become a vast salt desert with no evidence of water and only cracked clay.

La Patria also reports the lake has a surface area of 4,600 square km (1,776 square miles), but currently there is very little water occupying it.