Mama Cotacachi: History, local perceptions, and social impacts of climate change and glacier retreat in the Ecuadorian Andes

TR Number



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Berkeley, CA: University of California Press


Through the lens of the complete loss of the glacier on Mount Cotacachi in northern Ecuador, this book chapter explores the human and environment interface between the impacts of global warming and the people living in the Andes Mountains. Using a transdisciplinary approach, the researchers analyze photographic records and sketches back to the late eighteen hundreds, oral histories of the local people, and scientific monitoring of changes in water level in local lakes and rivers. The responses of the local people were particularly fascinating. While the agricultural producers described conditions of global warming as reflected by lighter rainfall, fewer streams, and the upward movement of crop cultivation into higher altitudes, the stories of local cultures overwhelmingly enforce the notion of Cotachi's glacier as a permanent white blanket of snow. Based on this, the research makes suggestions and promises opportunities for further exploration of glacial health and prominence in Andean culture.



Watershed management, Indigenous community, Water management, Andes, Glacier retreat, Local perceptions, Ecosystem