Bolivia’s evaporated lake

UPDATE 2300, Thursday 11 February: See below.

The Herald reports the second-largest lake in Bolivia has evaporated.

Lake has disappeared before

Lake Poopo was officially declared evaporated last month. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people have lost their livelihoods and gone.

High on Bolivia’s semi-arid Andean plains at 3700 metres (more than 12,000 feet) and long subject to climatic whims, the shallow saline lake has essentially dried up before only to rebound to twice the area of Los Angeles.

Scientist says ‘climate change’

“This is a picture of the future of climate change,” says Dirk Hoffman, a German glaciologist who studies how rising temperatures from the burning of fossil fuels have accelerated glacial melting in Bolivia.

What a fatuous comment. One wonders how long such a study might take. Since a link between human emissions from burning fossil fuels and atmospheric temperature is highly controversial and has not been demonstrated, and since temperatures haven’t been rising, and since glaciers are more sensitive to precipitation and topography than to minute changes in air temperature, it’s likely that the stated objects of study cannot be found in Bolivia (except Bolivia).

So he’s probably studying just glaciers, which are quite interesting, and he’s talking about a link with fossil fuels just to secure funding from some generous climate change charity. Or Germany.

But this was man-made climate change

Other factors are involved here, including diversion of water for mining and agriculture (who might have guessed?), and politics. President Evo Morales has sought to deflect criticism for not acting earlier. He suggests that Poopo could come back, saying, “My father told me about crossing the lake on a bicycle once when it dried up.”

He returned last month from the UN climate conference in Paris. I looked it up; it finished on December 12 (a long time ago). El Pres must have taken a few weeks off from arduous presidenting. Or maybe he was buying bigger machine guns for the fight against drug trafficking.

Get your act together, President Morales. Your people need some assistance to look after the environment.

UPDATE 2300, Thursday 11 February

A reader, Maggy Wassilieff, advises: “Pity journalists don’t check the readily available scientific literature to discover that in recent times this shallow lake was dry between 1994-97, in the early 1970s, and the early 1940s.”

The paper she links to confirms this, concluding:

Water balance computations indicate that Lake Poopó was dry between 1994 and 1997 and was very low during 1969–1973. The computations also show that the lake can recover from almost dry conditions to normal or even to spill-over depth within a year. Drying of the lake to a very small surface area takes a longer time.

So having dried at leisure, the lake could be back to normal within a year. Climate alarmists may one day be asked to account for their deceptions; those who now uncritically repeat them will surely not escape scot-free.

Thanks, Maggy.

Views: 92

11 Thoughts on “Bolivia’s evaporated lake

  1. Richard C (NZ) on 11/02/2016 at 12:22 pm said:

    >“This is a picture of the future of climate change,”

    Or not.

    Stephen Schneider, October 1989:

    “On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but — which means that we must include all the doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands, and buts. On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well. And like most people we’d like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climatic change. To do that we need to get some broadbased support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This ‘double ethical bind’ we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both.”

    Offering up a picture of a dry Lake Poopo as “a picture of the future of climate change” was no doubt effective. But I don’t think it was honest.

  2. Richard Treadgold on 11/02/2016 at 12:32 pm said:


    But I don’t think it was honest.


  3. Maggy Wassilieff on 11/02/2016 at 10:43 pm said:

    Pity journalists don’t check the readily available scientific literature to discover that in recent times
    this shallow lake was dry between 1994-97, in the early 1970s, and the early 1940s.

  4. Richard Treadgold on 11/02/2016 at 10:58 pm said:


    That is classic. Thank you.

  5. Mike Jowsey on 12/02/2016 at 6:16 pm said:

    OMD, a shallow lake actually becomes a dry lake every now and then. Worse than we thought.

  6. Richard Treadgold on 12/02/2016 at 8:22 pm said:




  7. Maggy Wassilieff on 12/02/2016 at 11:30 pm said:

    OMD…. French version of OMG

  8. Richard Treadgold on 13/02/2016 at 9:16 am said:

    OMD … but of course! Though I didn’t know Mike was learned in French!

  9. Mike Jowsey on 14/02/2016 at 7:46 pm said:

    Not so much French, I consider myself somewhat conversant in the language of Dog. OMD = Oh My Dog. I might be called dyslexic in this matter. Which matters not. I have my beliefs, I am sure you have yours. It matters not in the Grand Scheme of Things Canine.

  10. Richard Treadgold on 14/02/2016 at 8:51 pm said:

    Heh heh! It must be related to Dog Latin.

  11. Richard C (NZ) on 15/02/2016 at 9:11 am said:

    Ship of Fools expedition paper as reported by the Guardian

    ‘150,000 penguins die after giant iceberg renders colony landlocked’

    “Since 2011 the colony of 160,000 penguins has shrunk to just 10,000, according to research carried out by the Climate Change Research Centre at Australia’s University of New South Wales. Scientists predict the colony will be gone in 20 years unless the sea ice breaks up or the giant iceberg, dubbed B09B, is dislodged.”

    Note the paper abstract makes no mention of 150,000 dead penguins:

    The impact of the giant iceberg B09B on population size and breeding success of Adélie penguins in Commonwealth Bay, Antarctica
    1 West Coast Penguin Trust, PO Box 70, Charleston 7865, West Coast, New Zealand
    2 Climate Change Research Centre, School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia
    3 29 Neurum Road, Yaroomba, QLD 4573, Australia

    Abstract: The arrival of iceberg B09B in Commonwealth Bay, East Antarctica, and subsequent fast
    ice expansion has dramatically increased the distance Adélie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) breeding at
    Cape Denison must travel in search of food. This has provided a natural experiment to investigate the
    impact of iceberg stranding events and sea ice expansion along the East Antarctic coast. As part of the
    Australasian Antarctic Expedition 2013–14, the Adélie penguin colony at Cape Denison was censused
    to compare to historic counts. Whilst some 5520 pairs still bred at Cape Denison there has been an order
    of magnitude decline in Adélie numbers in the area in comparison to the first counts a century ago and,
    critically, recent estimates based on satellite images and a census in 1997. In contrast, an Adélie
    population on the eastern fringe of Commonwealth Bay just 8 km from the fast ice edge was thriving,
    indicating the arrival of B09B and fast ice expansion was probably responsible for the observed recent
    population decline. In conclusion, the Cape Denison population could be extirpated within 20 years
    unless B09B relocates or the now perennial fast ice within the bay breaks out. Our results have important
    implications for wider East Antarctic if the current increasing sea ice trend continues.


    Giant iceberg could wipe out Adélie penguin colony at Cape Denison, Antarctica

    Adélie penguins usually return to the colony where they hatched and try to return to the same mate and nest. Professor Turney said the Cape Denison penguins could face a grim future. “They don’t migrate,” he said. “They’re stuck there. They’re dying.“

    Penguin Apocalypse: Adelie colony in Antarctica faces extinction as giant iceberg blocks sea

    Chris Turney: Penguins Don’t Migrate, they’re dying!

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