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Qori Kalis Glacier is a valley glacier that is an outlet for the Quelccaya Ice Cap in the tropical Andes mountains of Peru. It sits at a very high altitude of approximately 16,700 ft (5100 m) and at a lattitude of 13.91° S and a longitude of 70.83° W.
Since 1963, when measurements of the glacier began, Qori Kalis has retreated 1.1 km or by almost 50%. In 1991, a large proglacial lake began forming where the bottom of the glacier used to be.
Qori Kalis, photgraphed by L.G. Thompson in July of 1978 and 2004. —Image Credit: NSIDC Glacier Photo Collection.
"In the last 14 yr[s] (1991-2005), Qori Kalis has been retreating ~10 times faster (~60 m/yr) than during the initial measurement period of 15 yr[s] from 1963 to 1978 (~6 m/yr)" —L.G. Thompson, et al. (2006)
Glaciers can be very important to their surrounding communities for things such as water and hydroelectric power created from the glacial meltwater runoff. Qori Kalis has been monitored and studied since the early 1960's by the Electroperú, a hydro electric company in Peru, to gauge its use as a power source.
High altitude glaciers are also important to monitor because chunks of the glacier can break off or melt water can cause flooding to towns and cities below them. When a glacier forms a proglacial lake, it becomes particularly hazardous because the lake can overflow and flood the valleys below it. In March 2006, a large chunk of Qori Kalis came off and splashed into the lake at the bottom sending a large wave of water down into the valley.
Location: Peru, South America
Coordinates: 13.91° S, 70.83° W
Average Elevation: 5100 m
Glacier Type: Valley, Alpine
Current Size: .49 sq km
Rate of Loss: ~50% from 1963 - 2009
Lonnie G. Thompson, glaciologist and professor at the School of Earth Sciences at the Ohio State University, standing in front of Qori Kalis Glacier in 2000.Thompson has explored and measured the glaciers of the Quelccaya Ice Cap since the early 1970's. —Image Credit: Thomas Nash.