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The water issue is one of the 21st century’s greatest challenges. Abundant but unequally distributed on Earth, this resource is today threatened by climate change and the dangers of overuse. Improving access to water, which is still suffering from glaring disparities, is one of the Millennium Development Goals.
Whether for health, agriculture or transport, water is the essence of our daily existence. And yet as the 21st Century gets underway, our planet is facing a major water crisis. The tiny proportion of fresh water on the earth is unevenly distributed, badly managed and inadequately protected. Indeed, fresh water is in short supply in many developing countries.
This exhibition of 23 photographs aims to illustrate the research projects being carried out around the world. Scientists from all fields are working to try to understand the causes and effects of declining fresh water resources in a bid to better protect existing resources and distribute them more evenly.
The glaciers in the tropical Andes shrunk between 30 and 50% in 30 years, which represents the highest rate observed over the last three centuries. IRD researchers and their partners( 1) recently published a summary which chronicles the history of these glaciers since their maximum extension, reached between 1650 and 1730 of our era, in the middle of the Little Ice Age*. The faster melting is due to the rapid climate change which has occurred in the tropics since the 1950s, and in particular since the end of the 1970s, leading to an average temperature rise of 0.7°C in this part of the Andes. At the current pace of their retreat, small glaciers could disappear within the next 10 to 15 years, affecting water supply for the populations.