The glaciers of Mount Everest are melting significantly due to global warming. Researchers have been studying the effects of warmer temperatures on the highest peak and have discovered the ice cover has shrunk by 13% over the past 50 years. While that may not sound like a lot, the snow line is 590 feet below where it used to be. Rocks and other natural debris that were covered with snow years ago are now visible.
This research was led by Sudeep Thakuri, a scientist with the University of Milan. The findings, and potential consequences, were presented to the American Geophysical Union on Tuesday in Cancun, Mexico. The researchers used satellite imagery and topographical maps to study glacial history of Everest and Sagarmatha National Park. Small glaciers are disappearing the fastest, having declined by 43% in surface area since the 1960s. Precipitation has dropped by nearly 4 inches, since 1992, during pre-monsoon and winter months. Data from the Nepal Climate Observatory stations and Nepal’s Department of Hydrology and Meteorology indicate the average temperature has risen by about 1 degree Fahrenheit since 1992.
The glaciers are a main source of water during the dry season for over 1 billion people in Asia. Thakuri explained that the downstream populations “are dependent on the melt water for agriculture, drinking, and power production.” With the glaciers retreating on the Tibetan plateau, there is less snow for areas to depend on during monsoon seasons which leaves those areas vulnerable to rising temperatures.
This is an on-going study. With so much data gathered, reports over the years have ranged from saying that glaciers in this area would disappear completely by 2035, to showing that glaciers were increasing in certain areas. One analysis of a satellite mission by the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment indicated that the rate of melting was only one-tenth of what had previously been reported. Thakuri’s work is funded by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Water Research Institute-Italian National Research Council.
Written by: Cynthia Collins, Guardian Correspondent
Source: Google news