Arcadian Functor

occasional meanderings in physics' brave new world

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Location: New Zealand

Marni D. Sheppeard

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Going, Going, Gone

A large fraction of the world's human population is supported by a few glacier fed rivers, such as the Ganga and Brahmaputra. The Himalaya is currently home to 33000 square km of glaciers, but these are rapidly retreating in line with global warming. The rate of glacial retreat depends critically on temperature. A small increase in current temperatures will increase the rate of glacial melt. Some forecasts state that up to a quarter of the world's mountain glacier mass could disappear by 2050. That's a lot of drinking and irrigation water.

The home of the Kea is near some of the world's few advancing glaciers. These steep mountain glaciers advance partly because heavier than usual snows at high altitude build up the neve ice mass. It is often pointed out by the naysayers that the ice thickness on the great Greenland ice sheet is currently growing. This is a natural result of the increased precipitation that results from climate change. These people also like to point out that sea levels have not changed that much. That's right. The ice hasn't melted yet. But it is melting.

glaciology links


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