Lake Titicaca, the largest body of fresh water in South America, is rapidly losing water. As you can see from the imagery below, the lake is experiencing a significant decrease in water levels, due in part to human-induced climate change and increased consumption. Look at the imagery on the left taken a few days ago by NASA’s new Landsat 8 overlaid on Landsat 5 from May 1986. Swiping between these images, we see a distinctly different shoreline, with much more land exposed in 2014.

This reduction in water is critical because Lake Titicaca serves an estimated 2.6 million people a day with water for drinking and agricultural irrigation in both Peru and Bolivia.

The drying of the lake creates livelihood stability issues in the region, forcing local residents to walk farther for drinking water and necessitating a re-engineering of irrigation systems. If lake recession continues, the communities served by this massive body of water will need to invest in reservoirs and other rain catchment systems to fill the service gap left by the drying natural resource.

To see in more detail, try the full screen version!

Images were taken from the USGS repository for Landsat data, processed using all open source tools, styled in TileMill, hosted on Mapbox and embedded using Mapbox.js.