Glaciers

Background - 16 March, 2006
Glaciers are more than just magnificent landscapes of ice and snow. Around the world they act as frozen reservoirs providing water for billions of people, as well as animals and plants.

Glaciers are more than just magnificent landscapes of ice and snow. Around the world they act as frozen reservoirs providing water for billions of people, as well as animals and plants. Glaciers also influence local climates and ecosystems, and their melting is a dramatic warning of a warming world.

Upsala glacier in Patagonia: 1928 vs 2004

Nine out of 10 glaciers worldwide are melting. A few examples:

  • Scientists at US Glacier National park predict its glaciers will be gone within 30 years.
  • On the Arctic islands of Svalbard some glaciers are retreating up to 150m a year.
  • In Patagonia, every year for the past seven years, the glaciers have lost 42 cubic kilometres of ice - that's equivalent to the volume of 10,000 football stadiums - and the rate of melting is accelerating.
  • 82 percent of Mt. Kilimanjaro's ice cap has melted since1912.  The rest of the glacier will be gone within 15 years -along with 11,000 years of climate history trapped in its ice and a vital water supply for some of the world's poorest people.

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