The snow-capped mountains running through the center of this satellite image are part of the Cordillera Blanca – or ‘white range’ – in South America’s Andes. Even though they are part of the typically warm Tropics – the region of Earth surrounding the equator – the mountain range is high enough to be permanently covered in snow and ice.
There are hundreds of glaciers in this range they provide a primary source of water for irrigation and hydroelectric power. The glaciers and snow-covered areas ‘collect’ rain and snow during the rainy season and slowly release it during the year. Over the last decades, the glaciers have experienced significant losses owing to climate change, causing a massive threat to water supply during the dry season in the future.
Mount Huascarán sits at the center of the image and is the highest peak in Peru at 6768 m. The summit is one of the farthest points from Earth’s center, meaning it experiences the lowest gravity on the planet.
North of Huascarán, we can see an outlet glacier that meets another outlet from the Chopicalqui mountain to the east. Numerous blue glacial lakes are visible in the valleys between the hills.
The Huascarán National Park has been on the UNESCO world heritage list since 1985. The spectacled bear, puma, mountain cat, white-tailed deer and vicuna are important indigenous species which have all been hunted in the past.