In this chapter, we will examine the relationship between the Andean tropical glaciers and the Amazon rainforest, presenting a comprehensive overview on those ice masses that are the headwaters of the Amazon River and examining changes in environmental processes that may affect their mass balance and how they may feedback into the Amazon lowlands environmental processes. The first part of this chapter describes the present glaciological knowledge on these Andean ice masses that flow towards the Amazon drainage basin, about 1666 km2 (of which 68% are in Peru, 24% in Bolivia and the remaining 8% in Ecuador). The mass balance of these glaciers is strongly dependent on the Amazon hydrological cycle, as water coming from the Atlantic Ocean and recycled though the rainforest is the main source of their precipitation. A second part of the chapter explores how two environmental systems are interconnected and interacted. The third part of chapter examines the present (last 50 years) human-made changes in the Amazon basin and how they may affect the Andean ice masses. These glaciers also hold the best proxy for the Amazon Holocene changes, the record left in the snow and ice chemistry. So, as a complement to this chapter, we review the information on the paleoenvironmental changes found in ice cores in Bolivia and Peru and what they may point about the future of the Andean tropical glaciers.
Part of the book: Glacier Evolution in a Changing World