Venezuela has officially lost all its glaciers, making it the first country in the Americas to do so. The last glacier, known as La Corona and located on Mérida’s highest peak, has diminished below the size considered to qualify as a glacier. Once spanning approximately 450 hectares, it now covers less than 5 acres, a significant decrease attributed to climate change and notably high temperatures in recent years.

This environmental milestone is alarming for the region, particularly for the Andes which span across multiple South American countries and heavily rely on glaciers for water, energy, and food production. The rapid loss of these ice formations poses severe risks to the ecosystems and communities depending on them.

Previously, experts believed the Humboldt glacier might last another decade, but unexpected climate patterns, including intensified El Niño events, accelerated its decline. Alejandra Melfo, an astrophysicist specializing in tropical glaciers at the University of the Andes, noted the rapid melting rate as a clear sign of the ongoing impact of global warming.

The disappearance of the Humboldt glacier serves as a critical reminder of the broader implications of climate change. With 80% of the world’s glaciers projected to nearly vanish by 2100 under current global warming trajectories, the situation in Venezuela may precede similar outcomes globally unless significant environmental interventions are enacted.