- Global warming is shrinking many of the
world's glaciers at an alarming rate, raising the sea level, new research
- A new University of Colorado at Boulder
study says outside of Antarctica and the Greenland Ice Sheet, the rate
of melt continues to accelerate. "In the last century, there has been
a significant decrease in the area and volume of glaciers, especially at
mid- and low-latitudes," says Professor Mark Meier of the geological
sciences department. "The disappearance of glacier ice is more pronounced
than we previously had thought."
- The hardest hit glaciers are on Africa's
Mount Kenya, which lost 92 percent of its mass in the last century, and
on Mount Kilimanjaro, where glaciers have shrunk by 73 percent. The number
of Spain's glaciers has dropped to 13 from 27 in 1980.
- Meier reported his team's research at
the American Geophysical Union meeting in Boston on Tuesday.
- Researchers have collected detailed data
on only a few hundred of the roughly 200,000 glaciers around the world,
Meier says. But a new method of "scaling" developed by CU researchers
should allow scientists to more accurately assess changes in glaciers of
all sizes. Scaling involves complex algorithms to define the relationships
of several characteristic glacier variables, according to the CU news bureau.
- If the theory is right, Montana's Glacier
National Park will have no glaciers within a hundred years, perhaps far
sooner if the current climate trends continue.
- "During the past several decades,
ice wastage and global sea rise are moving pretty much in step," says
Meier. Although the world's glaciers excluding Antarctica and Greenland
make up only about 6 percent of the world's total ice mass, the water is
recycled more quickly and contributes more to sea level rise than do the
polar ice sheets.
- The International Panel on Climate Change
projected in 1996 that the world's oceans will rise by more than 18 inches
by the year 2100, with a third of that contributed by glaciers and ice
caps and more than half by the thermal expansion of warming waters, an
indirect consequence of glacial melting.
- "The rate of warming is unprecedented
in the last 600 years and the retreat of glaciers is probably unprecedented
too, although we do not have the figures to prove it," says Meier.
"But I'm convinced there is a detectable human influence in the pattern
of climate change we are seeing."