The installation of weather stations in such elevated areas requires rigorous planning. Which does not mean that mishaps are completely ruled out.
According to the climatologist at Appalachian State University, the expedition to Chile involved overcoming a series of major obstacles. “The biggest challenge was organizing the expedition amid the Covid-19 pandemic, which required prolonged quarantine, frequent testing and implementation of strict protocols to ensure the health and safety of all team members.” After that, during the journey itself towards the top of the Andes, there were more troubles. “We faced unstable rocky slopes and 2-meter-deep snow, which severely limited the ability of horses and mules to transport supplies and equipment to the higher camps,” explains Perry.
The base point for the meteorological station to be set up was 5,800 meters high. The measuring equipment, however, is at an altitude of 6,500 meters. In 2019, in the same region, other teams supported by National Geographic had set up climate monitoring centers at 4,400 meters, on Aconcagua, and two more, at 4,400 meters and 5,750 meters, on the neighboring volcano, Tupungatito.
“A heavy blizzard actually trapped us in the tents this time, but luckily, it happened the day after work on the successful installation of the weather station just below the volcano’s summit was completed.”
– says Perry, one of the coordinators of the expedition carried out at the beginning of the year.
For the American climatologist, the personal result of the expeditions to Everest and the Tupungato volcano could not be different, as he himself reports.
“Climate change in these real water towers is not an abstract concept. It is a process that already causes direct impacts on the water resources that sustain hundreds of millions of people. So there is a huge urgency not only to mitigate future climate change, but also to adapt to changes in terms of water availability.”