The biggest and tallest navigable lake in South America, Lake Titicaca, is seeing a sharp decline in water levels as a result of an unusually warm winter. The dramatic loss is having an impact on the local economy, which depends on agriculture, fishing, and tourism.
“We don’t know what we will do from now until December because the water will keep getting lower,” said Nazario Charca, 63, a resident of the lake who earns a living transporting visitors across its waters.
The biggest lake in South America, covering an area of more than 3,200 square miles and straddling the border between Bolivia and Peru, has long drawn tourists due to its clear waters and starry sky.
It is sometimes referred to as an “inland sea,” is home to Aymara, Quechua, and Uros indigenous cultures, and is the world’s highest navigable lake at an elevation of around 3,800 meters (12,500 feet) in the central Andes mountain range.
Solar Power and Water Loss
The lake experiences significant amounts of solar radiation due to its severe altitude, which accelerates evaporation and accounts for the majority of the lake’s water losses. Around the lake, more than three million people reside.
They depend on the lake’s waters for fishing, farming, and bringing in tourists to bolster the local economy. The lake is now in danger of losing part of its enchantment.
Water levels are known to shift annually, but the climate problem has made these variations more intense. According to CNN meteorologist Taylor Ward, a record-breaking winter heat wave has exacerbated water shortages caused by drought by increasing evaporation and lowering lake levels.
From August 2022 to March 2023, which covers the rainy season when water levels typically recover, precipitation there was 49% lower than average, according to Sixto Flores, director in Puno for Peru’s national meteorological and hydrological agency (Senamhi).