Drastic Glacier Shrinkage In China Threatens Water Supply for 1.5 billion

Pace of Mountain Ice Sheets Worldwide is Not Glacial

drastic Glacier shrinkageMassive glacier shrinkage not only threatens water supplies, it also causes landslides and catastrophic flooding

Massive glacier shrinkage not only threatens water supplies, it also causes landslides and catastrophic flooding
Chinese scientists have issued an uncharacteristically scary paper describing the devastating effects of rapidly melting glaciers in the western region of the empire. The region includes the Himalayas and the Tibetan Highlands. The 46,000 glaciers are the key source of water for about 1.5 billion people.The new study, published in Environmental Research Letter, describes the way in which rapid glacier shrinkage is also causing flooding, landslides and more severe drought cycles. Among other current effects expected to worsen are not necessarily obvious, including long term regional warming and rapid increase in the growth of glacial lakes*.

Cited as an example in the report was the Mengke Glacier in the Qilian Range which retreated at a rate of 26 feet a year between 1993 to 2005. The rate then doubled to 54 feet a year.


*In this case, we are talking about a positive feedback loop: global warming causes the glaciers to melt. As a result, the scale of the retreating ice sheets actually affects the local climate.

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