Overturned fishing skiffs lie abandoned on the shores of what was Bolivia’s second-largest lake. Beetles dine on bird carcasses and gulls fight for scraps under a glaring sun in what marshes remain.
Lake Poopó was officially declared evaporated in December. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people have lost their livelihoods and gone.
High on Bolivia’s semi-arid Andean plains at 3, 700 metres (more than 12, 000 feet) and long subject to climatic whims, the shallow saline lake has essentially dried up before only to rebound to twice the area of Los Angeles.
But recovery may no longer be possible, scientists say.
“This is a picture of the future of climate change, ” says Dirk Hoffman, a German glaciologist who studies how rising temperatures from the burning of fossil fuels has accelerated glacial melting in Bolivia.