China's state-run media reported on Wednesday that the country's glaciers have shrunk by 15 percent over the last thirty years because of, obviously, global warming.
Xinhua notes that according to the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), glaciers in the Qinghai-Tibet plateau in western China are now 3,089 square miles smaller than they were in the 1990s. CAS researcher Kang Shichang added that the melt affects ice in the Himalayas, saying that "more and bigger cracks" can be found in ice on Mount Everest, a sign of "rapidly melting glaciers." The Shanghai Daily reports:
As the highest place in the world's mid-latitude regions, the plateau is more likely to be affected by global warming... China has more than 46,000 glaciers, mainly in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. They are a reliable indicator of climate change, and easy for scientists to observe. Kang said retreating glaciers have impacted meltwater rivers and led to more glacier-lake outbursts. "It can increase water flow of major rivers in the short term, but in the long run, a continuation of the retreat will eventually deplete the glacial ice and substantially reduce or eliminate runoff," he added.
Kang warns that glacial melting could deplete many of Asia's main rivers. As far back as 2008, scientists predicted that such glacial melt could lead to food shortages in the region. The Guardian reported at the time:
And as they retreat, glacial lakes will burst, debris and ice will fall in avalanches, rivers will flood and then dry up, and sea levels will rise even further, say the climate experts. Communities will be deprived of essential water, crops will be ruined and power stations which rely on river flows paralyzed. As a result, people will have to change their lifestyles, their farming, even move their homes, says Achim Steiner, executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Guess that means we're at the beginning of the end.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.