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Glacier Melt hits Record Rate

Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years, 6 months ago

 

Edmonton Journal (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada)

Monday » March 17 » 2008

 

Glacier melt hits record rate, UN says

Huge losses in Europe spark renewed climate change fears

 

Reuters Sunday, March 16, 2008

 

OSLO - A thaw of the world's glaciers has accelerated to a new record with some of the biggest losses within Europe, in a worrying sign of climate change, the UN Environment Programme said Sunday.

 

"Meltdown in the mountains," UNEP said in a statement, saying that a retreat of glaciers from the Andes to the Arctic should add urgency to UN negotiations on working out a new treaty by the end of 2009 to combat global warming.

 

"Data from close to 30 reference glaciers in nine mountain ranges indicate that between the years 2004-2005 and 2005-2006 the average rate of melting and thinning more than doubled," it said.

 

Some of the biggest losses were in Europe -- in the Alps, the Pyrenees and the Nordic region -- according to the UNEP-backed World Glacier Monitoring Service at the University of Zurich in Switzerland.

 

"The latest figures are part of what appears to be an accelerating trend with no apparent end in sight," WGMS director Wilfried Haeberli said in a statement.

 

The estimates, based on measuring the thickness of glacier ice, indicated an average loss of about 1.5 metres in 2006, up from just over half a metre in 2005. UNEP said the thinning was the fastest since monitoring began. Since 1980, glaciers have thinned by about 11.5 metres in a retreat blamed by the U.N. Climate Panel mainly on human use of fossil fuels.

 

The thaw could disrupt everything from farming -- millions of people in Asia depend on seasonal melt water from the Himalayas -- and power generation to winter sports. The thaw could also raise world sea levels.

 

UNEP said glaciers were among the clearest indicators of global warming. "There are many canaries emerging in the climate change coal mine. The glaciers are perhaps among those making the most noise," said Achim Steiner, head of UNEP.

 

Among big losers, Norway's Breidalblikkbrea glacier thinned by almost 3.1 metres during 2006 compared with 0.3 metres in 2005 and France's Ossoue glacier in the Pyrenees thinned by nearly three metres versus around 2.7 metres in 2005.

 

 

© The Edmonton Journal 2008

 

 

Copyright © 2008 CanWest Interactive, a division of CanWest MediaWorks Publications, Inc.. All rights reserved.

 

posted to ClimateConcern

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