TWN Info Service on Climate
Please see below an article by Inter Press Service (IPS) on the effects of climate change on glaciers.
average rate of thinning and melting more than doubled between 2004
and 2006, reports the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS), a centre
based at the
"The latest figures are part of what appears to be an accelerating trend with no apparent end in sight," said Wilfried Haeberli, director of the WGMS.
The accelerated glacier meltdown is a clear indicator that climate change has taken hold and millions if not billions will be affected, warned Achim Steiner, executive director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
feed the rivers that people are completely dependent on - 360 million
on the Ganges in
Rapidly melting glaciers also produce floods and raise sea levels. On average, there is one metre of fresh water in every 1.1 metres of glacier ice.
The Service has been tracking the fate of glaciers for over a century. Continuous data series of annual mass balance, expressed as thickness change, are available for 30 reference glaciers since 1980.
The ice loss in 2006 was particularly high, nearly triple that of 2005. Overall since 1980, glaciers have experienced an average net loss of 11.5 metres in ice thickness. Such losses are clearly visible in many parts of the world.
of the most dramatic shrinking has taken place in Europe, with
all glaciers in the
As temperatures rise, glaciers retreat up the mountain to higher and cooler elevations. "We're seeing new real estate that hasn't seen the light of day for thousands of years," he said.
mountain snow-pack is more important for water flows in the
year's cold winter in many parts of the Northern Hemisphere will do
little to halt the glacier vanishing act, said Richard Alley, a glaciologist
The colder and snowier-than-usual weather has led some to suggest that the rate of climate change is slowing. But even if a few months are cooler or this year is cooler overall than last, the trend over the past 30 years makes it absolutely clear that temperatures are climbing, he said.
will continue to melt. Continuing losses on the massive
Everyone should sit and take notice of the see-it-with-your-own-eyes glacial meltdown, said Steiner in a statement.
an important meeting between the world's top 20 emitters of greenhouse
gases ended in acrimony Sunday in
so-called G20 countries that include leading industrialised nations
plus large developing countries such as
is but 18 months until the 2009 UN Climate Convention meeting in
Most scientists around the world say that this treaty must result in the reduction of emissions by 25% to 40% by 2020 to have a chance to avoid catastrophic climate change.
Without that international agreement in 2009, "like the glaciers, our room for manoeuvre and the opportunity to act may simply melt away," said Steiner. +