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Lennart van der Linde

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Glaciers worldwide decline faster than ever
« on: August 04, 2015, 08:36:59 AM »
Zemp et al 2015:
http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/igsoc/jog/pre-prints/content-ings_jog_15j017

Abstract
"Observations show that glaciers around the world are in retreat and losing mass. Internationally coordinated for over a century, glacier monitoring activities provide an unprecedented dataset of glacier observations from ground, air and space. Glacier studies generally select specific parts of these datasets to obtain optimal assessments of the mass-balance data relating to the impact that glaciers exercise on global sea-level fluctuations or on regional runoff. In this study we provide an overview and analysis of the main observational datasets compiled by the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS). The dataset on glacier front variations (~42 000 since 1600) delivers clear evidence that centennial glacier retreat is a global phenomenon. Intermittent readvance periods at regional and decadal scale are normally restricted to a subsample of glaciers and have not come close to achieving the maximum positions of the Little Ice Age (or Holocene). Glaciological and geodetic observations (~5200 since 1850) show that the rates of early 21st-century mass loss are without precedent on a global scale, at least for the time period observed and probably also for recorded history, as indicated also in reconstructions from written and illustrated documents. This strong imbalance implies that glaciers in many regions will very likely suffer further ice loss, even if climate remains stable."

Clare

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Re: Glaciers worldwide decline faster than ever
« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2015, 01:07:39 PM »
Thanks for posting this Lennart.

"The big melt: we won't recognise our glaciers" (in New Zealand)

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/science/news/article.cfm?c_id=82&objectid=11491426
Article referring to this paper in the NZ context
+ a link to a spectacular time lapse video rom Jan 2014-Jan 2015 showing the 300m retreat of Fox Glacier on NZ's South Island's west coast:
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/science/news/video.cfm?c_id=82&gal_objectid=11491426&gallery_id=153022

TerryM

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Re: Glaciers worldwide decline faster than ever
« Reply #2 on: August 05, 2015, 02:50:27 AM »
As I understand it mountain glaciers aren't large enough to have much effect on ocean level. Those downstream however that rely on glacial melt for water will have big problems.
As coastal dwellers move inland away from rising waters and mountain/valley people move to avoid water shortages, those with a regular water supply that aren't threatened by SLR may have to fight for their traditional lands.
Exciting times ahead.
Terry

Sigmetnow

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Re: Glaciers worldwide decline faster than ever
« Reply #3 on: August 31, 2015, 09:36:11 PM »
Glaciers in Central Asia Shrinking Fast
Central Asian glaciers have melted at four times the global average since the early 1960s, shedding 27 percent of their mass, according to a recent study.

By 2050, warmer temperatures driven by climate change could wipe out half the remaining glacier ice in the Tien Shan mountain range, reported the study, published in Nature Geoscience.

At stake is a critical source of water for people in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, as well as a section of northwest China.
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/2015/08/29/environment/glaciers-central-asia-shrinking-fast-study/
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Sigmetnow

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Re: Glaciers worldwide decline faster than ever
« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2015, 12:50:57 PM »
Glaciers in Western Canada continue to melt at an alarming rate, with researchers recording a five-and-a-half metre ice surface loss on the Athabasca Glacier in the past year.
http://calgaryherald.com/news/local-news/western-canadas-glaciers-losing-ice-at-near-record-rates
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Martin Gisser

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Re: Glaciers worldwide decline faster than ever
« Reply #5 on: October 08, 2015, 12:53:32 AM »
Since they found Ice Man Ötzi in 1991 glacial archaeology has become a field of its own with its own scientific journal: http://www.equinoxpub.com/journals/index.php/JGA http://glacierhub.org/2014/12/12/glacier-archaeology-comes-of-age/

This is an incredible opportunity, since the artefacts found on the glaciers are so well-preserved. It might be counter-intuitive, since nobody (except Inuit) lives on the ice. But people walked it, travelling (Ötzi), hunting (Norway, Canada), making sacrifices (Peru).

Problem is, once melted out, organic stuff decomposes quickly. So this is a race against time.
“For every artifact we find, we’re losing thousands. And we’re never going to be able to replace this data,”
(...)
Thus, glacial archeologists find themselves at the start of an unprecedented but ephemeral run of discovery. “Now is the time to organize expeditions,” Hafner says. “We have 20—maybe 30—years, and then we will be finished.”
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/melting-mummies-are-on-thin-ice-thanks-to-climate-change/


http://sciencenordic.com/items-lost-stone-age-are-found-melting-glaciers
http://www.archaeology.org/issues/105-1309/letter-from/1165-glaciers-ice-patches-norway-global-warming
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Laurent

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Re: Glaciers worldwide decline faster than ever
« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2015, 09:25:04 AM »
Erosion by an Alpine glacier
http://www.sciencemag.org/content/350/6257/193.short

Assessing the impact of glaciation on Earth’s surface requires understanding glacial erosion processes. Developing erosion theories is challenging because of the complex nature of the erosion processes and the difficulty of examining the ice/bedrock interface of contemporary glaciers. We demonstrate that the glacial erosion rate is proportional to the ice-sliding velocity squared, by quantifying spatial variations in ice-sliding velocity and the erosion rate of a fast-flowing Alpine glacier. The nonlinear behavior implies a high erosion sensitivity to small variations in topographic slope and precipitation. A nonlinear rate law suggests that abrasion may dominate over other erosion processes in fast-flowing glaciers. It may also explain the wide range of observed glacial erosion rates and, in part, the impact of glaciation on mountainous landscapes during the past few million years.

Laurent

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Re: Glaciers worldwide decline faster than ever
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2016, 08:17:15 PM »
El Niño means glaciers in the Andes are melting at record rates
https://www.newscientist.com/article/2075093-el-nino-means-glaciers-in-the-andes-are-melting-at-record-rates/
Tropical glaciers in the Andes are melting at their fastest rate for 12 years, thanks to the record-breaking El Niño that is warming up the area, according to new data analysed for New Scientist.

This is compounding the already high melting rates from global warming that will consign many glaciers to history within decades.

“The lower-level glaciers in the Andes, below 5500 metres, are really endangered now and probably only have a couple of decades left,” says Michael Zemp, director of the World Glacier Monitoring Service in Zurich, Switzerland. The organisation recently found that the first decade of the 21st century saw the greatest decadal loss of glacier ice ever measured, with melting rates two to three times higher than in the 20th century.
Unique record of Earth’s past

This glacier loss will lead to water and hydropower shortages, the destruction of unique habitats home to endemic species, as well as the loss of a unique record of Earth’s past recorded in layers of ice (see box, below).

Doug Hardy, a climate scientist at the University of Massachusetts, has recorded the lowest snow accumulation in the 12 years he has been monitoring the Quelccaya Ice Cap in Peru (pictured above) – the largest glacier in the tropics. “We’re seeing 40 per cent more melting than any other year since measurements started in 2002,” he says.

Similarly, the Conejeras glacier in Colombia has lost 43 per cent of its volume over the last two years, according to Jorge Luis Ceballos Liévano and his colleagues from the Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies Institute in Bogotá. More than two-thirds of that loss has taken place since the onset of the current El Niño.
Rising snowline

“2015 was particularly bad for this glacier and if losses persist it is possible that it will be extinct by 2030 or before,” says Liévano. “Conejeras is representative of what is happening elsewhere in the Andes.”

For example, the once-continuous ice mass along the crest of the Sierra Nevada del Cocuy in Colombia is now a series of broken patches. Measurements show that the snowline has risen above most of the mountain summits now. “In Colombia there is no accumulation of ice and so we anticipate that these glaciers will only have around 20 years
,” says Zemp.

The Zongo glacier in Bolivia, whose runoff feeds a hydroelectric power station supplying the capital, La Paz, also appears to be in its death throes.
Some glaciers already extinct

Some glaciers have already melted away. In 2009, the last of the ice disappeared on the 5350-metre-high Chacaltaya glacier in Bolivia – previously the world’s highest ski resort (pictured below). Similarly the ice-covered summit of Pico Espejo in Venezuela became bare rock by 2008.
QU001327

Christophe Boisvieux/Corbis

In Bolivia and Peru, which have arid summers, glaciers buffer the water supply and ensure a year-round steady flow. Last year Antoine Rabatel, from the Joseph Fourier University in Grenoble, France, and colleagues showed that during the dry season a quarter of La Paz’s water comes from glaciers. “Right now people don’t realise the urgency of the situation because the fast melting of the glaciers is providing plenty of water,” says Rabatel.

In some locations the nature of things to come is starting to become apparent. Retreat of glaciers in the Quebrada Paron mountains of Peru has reduced water flow into the lake below, which supplies a hydroelectric power plant.
Loss of ecosystems

In 2008, people living downstream in the city of Caraz found themselves short of water for irrigation and decided to take direct action in protest. “They locked access to the touristic high valley of Paron,” says Rabatel. This blocked access to the area both to tourists and scientists. “In this case it was more a problem of managing the water resource, but such problems are likely to become more important as water quantity decreases.”

And it isn’t just people who will be affected. Previous research has found that between 11 and 38 per cent of species could be lost in an area following the disappearance of a glacier. Specialist species such as the meltwater stonefly, whose larvae rely on glacial streams, are likely to start vanishing when half the glacial cover in a region is lost. And slow-growing alpine cushion plants, along with many other species of plant and animal that depend on these mossy pillows, will suffer under increasing temperatures. Even though cushion plants prefer to colonise newly deglaciated land, they will struggle to keep up with the pace of melting. The only bird known to nest on a glacier – the white-winged diuca finch (Diuca speculifera) – may have to keep moving higher to build its nests, until eventually it will run out of places to go.
Race to capture the soul of dying glaciers

Several teams of glaciologists are rushing to drill into remaining glaciers to preserve a sample called an ice core, and with it record of our planet's past.

"Some of these glaciers contain 20,000 years' worth of atmospheric data and right now melting is wiping this record out," says Antoine Rabatel from the Joseph Fourier University in Grenoble, France.

"We need to preserve these cores now, so that scientists of the future can still extract this information," says his colleague Patrick Ginot, who is leading a UNESCO-supported project - Saving Ice in Danger - to collect and store glacial ice cores at the Concordia Research Station in Antarctica.

Lonnie Thompson, from the Ohio State University, and his team have been hauling their specialist solar-powered drilling rigs up to some of the most inaccessible places in the world since 1983. Just last month they returned with ice cores from the Guliya ice cap in north-west Tibet, which they then store in a specialist unit at the university.

"This freezer facility is the only place that the ice from some of these glaciers still exists," says Thompson. These glacial ghosts include lost ice fields on Mount Kilimanjaro in East Africa and those from the rapidly melting Northwall Firn glacier on the slopes of Puncak Jaya in Indonesia.

Much of our understanding of global climate is based on the high-resolution record of past atmosphere that only ice cores can provide.

The cores from the Quelccaya Ice Cap in Peru, for example, show the medieval warm period when the Vikings settled in Greenland. "You can see the onset of the Little Ice Age in the early 1500s that contributed to the demise of the Vikings," says Thompson. "And you can see the warming in the 20th century."

"We hope soon to be able to reconstruct the evolution of things like bacteria and viruses through time by using the ice archive," says Thompson.

Sigmetnow

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Re: Glaciers worldwide decline faster than ever
« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2016, 03:12:45 PM »
Xinjiang Region of China Bans Glacier Tourism, Citing Risk to Ecosystem
BEIJING — Glaciologists in China and elsewhere have said for years that climate change is the main cause of glacier erosion, which threatens the water sources of much of humanity.

Officials in the far northwestern Chinese region of Xinjiang now say another factor is putting the fragile glaciers at risk: tourism.

The Xinjiang government announced this month that it was banning tourism on glaciers across the region, which is one-sixth of the Chinese land mass. Many glaciers are found in Xinjiang, and in the Tianshan range in particular, which runs east-west through the middle of the vast region.

Officials want to ensure that tourists observe the glaciers from a distance, not atop the glaciers themselves, according to a report published on Thursday by Xinhua, the state news agency.
...
The report said that “global warming, grazing, mining and tourism have accelerated destruction of the glaciers, and led to water shortages in several areas.”

It quoted Chen Xi of the Chinese Academy of Sciences as saying that glaciers in the Tianshan range have receded 15 to 30 percent in the last three decades.
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/17/world/asia/china-xinjiang-glacier-tourism.html
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Sigmetnow

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Re: Glaciers worldwide decline faster than ever
« Reply #9 on: March 13, 2016, 04:41:28 AM »
Witness the collapse of the Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina's Los Glaciares National Park.
https://twitter.com/weatherchannel/status/708812675531157509
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abbottisgone

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Re: Glaciers worldwide decline faster than ever
« Reply #10 on: April 26, 2016, 09:47:19 AM »
As I understand it mountain glaciers aren't large enough to have much effect on ocean level. Those downstream however that rely on glacial melt for water will have big problems.
As coastal dwellers move inland away from rising waters and mountain/valley people move to avoid water shortages, those with a regular water supply that aren't threatened by SLR may have to fight for their traditional lands.
Exciting times ahead.
Terry
It is more that it is an indicator of Climate Change.
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DoomInTheUK

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Re: Glaciers worldwide decline faster than ever
« Reply #11 on: April 26, 2016, 11:38:28 AM »
The estimates I've seen are around 1 meter of sea level rise from all the land based glaciers, and about the same agian from thermal expansion.
So not a lot in comparison to Greenland and Antarctica, but still enough to count.

Xulonn

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Re: Glaciers worldwide decline faster than ever
« Reply #12 on: April 26, 2016, 09:07:26 PM »
Although mountain glaciers are not that important with respect to SLR, they have their own set of serious consequences coming for human civilization.  I don't think that many people - even those who accept the reality of rapid AGW/CC - realize the dire implications of mountain glacier melt and average snowpack reduction as in California's Sierra Nevada mountains. 

I have not found a paper or study with a detailed analysis of world-wide human dependency on these water sources and the implications of the dynamics of the involved hydrology  trends.  However, a post at the the Seametrics blog (http://www.seametrics.com/blog/climate-change/),although without citation, states that: 

"More than one-sixth of the world population relies on glaciers and seasonal snow packs for water resources." 

That's more than one billion people! 

The origin and primary flow of water for many South American and Asian rivers depends on Andes and Himalayan glaciers respectively, although countries in the lower elevation rain-forest regions of some watersheds can be lightly to heavily supplemented by monsoonal and other tropical rainfall patterns. 

In a warming world, river flow in some regions will likely increase as glacial melt increases, but eventually decrease as glaciers shrink  - lose volume - past a certain point.  The temporary increase will encourage population growth and development, but then slam the affected areas later with water shortages.  Coupled with "water grabs" via new dams on rivers such as the Mekong, permanent and irreversible flow reductions may already be happening, especially in places such as  in China, Pakistan, India, and SE Asia. 

With a significant increase in atmospheric moisture content capacity with each degree rise in average global temps (7%?), and a likely shift to more frequent heavy regional precipitation events alternating with droughts that are likely to be severe and extended, we may be on the threshold of some serious civilization-impacting weather events and short-term climate changes.     

Although SLR will be easy for everyone to see as it kicks into high gear, the quantification of glacier melt on river flows, coupled with the impacts of weather patterns and drought cycles, will be much more difficult to quantify and assign attribution. 


abbottisgone

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Re: Glaciers worldwide decline faster than ever
« Reply #13 on: June 21, 2016, 07:33:06 AM »
The estimates I've seen are around 1 meter of sea level rise from all the land based glaciers, and about the same agian from thermal expansion.
So not a lot in comparison to Greenland and Antarctica, but still enough to count.
Glaciers act as indicators of climate change: before sea level rise will be global panic in more than the economy. Where are the Syrians going to run once the Europeans realise the situation in the deserts of the world is being taken advantage of...?

Eventually the penny drops once the forecasters come to agree that too many indicators line up to tell only one story. Then people rush to secure their food and drink and everything else supplies. It's geo-politics!!
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AbruptSLR

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Re: Glaciers worldwide decline faster than ever
« Reply #14 on: September 04, 2016, 12:30:42 AM »
The linked article is entitled: "Melting Glaciers Are Wreaking Havoc on Earth's Crust":

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/melting-glaciers-are-wreaking-havoc-earths-crust-180960226/?no-ist
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budmantis

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Re: Glaciers worldwide decline faster than ever
« Reply #15 on: September 04, 2016, 06:17:32 AM »
Great article ASLR.

AbruptSLR

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Re: Glaciers worldwide decline faster than ever
« Reply #16 on: December 13, 2016, 06:45:22 PM »
The linked reference (& associated article) provide statistical evidence gather from 37 mountain glaciers for the past approximately 100-years indicating that climate change is real:

Gerard H. Roe, Marcia B. Baker & Florian Herla (2016), "Centennial glacier retreat as categorical evidence of regional climate change", Nature Geoscience, doi:10.1038/ngeo2863

http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/ngeo2863.html

Abstract: "The near-global retreat of glaciers over the last century provides some of the most iconic imagery for communicating the reality of anthropogenic climate change to the public. Surprisingly, however, there has not been a quantitative foundation for attributing the retreats to climate change, except in the global aggregate. This gap, between public perception and scientific basis, is due to uncertainties in numerical modelling and the short length of glacier mass-balance records. Here we present a method for assessing individual glacier change based on the signal-to-noise ratio, a robust metric that is insensitive to uncertainties in glacier dynamics. Using only meteorological and glacier observations, and the characteristic decadal response time of glaciers, we demonstrate that observed retreats of individual glaciers represent some of the highest signal-to-noise ratios of climate change yet documented. Therefore, in many places, the centennial-scale retreat of the local glaciers does indeed constitute categorical evidence of climate change."

See also the following article entitled: "Mountain glaciers are showing some of the strongest responses to climate change".
http://phys.org/news/2016-12-mountain-glaciers-strongest-responses-climate.html

Extract: "Overall, the results show that changes in the 37 glaciers' lengths are between two and 15 standard deviations away from their statistical means. That represents some of the highest signal-to-noise ratios yet documented in natural systems' response to climate change.

"Even though the scientific analysis arguably hasn't always been there, it now turns out that it really is true—we can look at these glaciers all around us that we see retreating, and see definitive evidence that the climate is changing," Roe said. "That's why people have noticed it. These glaciers are stunningly far away from where they would have been in a preindustrial climate." "
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skanky

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Archimid

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Re: Glaciers worldwide decline faster than ever
« Reply #18 on: May 08, 2017, 01:21:06 PM »
The Glaciers are Going

http://blogs.ei.columbia.edu/2017/05/05/the-glaciers-are-going/

Extract:
As can be seen above, the Waggonwaybreen glacier in Svalbard, Norway, has retreated substantially since 1900. Svalbard’s glaciers are not only retreating, they are also losing about two feet of their thickness each year. Glaciers around the world have retreated at unprecedented rates and some have disappeared altogether. The melting of glaciers will affect people around the world, their drinking water supplies, water needed to grow food and supply energy, as well as global sea levels.
I am an energy reservoir seemingly intent on lowering entropy for self preservation.

Archimid

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Re: Glaciers worldwide decline faster than ever
« Reply #19 on: May 11, 2017, 03:41:37 PM »
US Glacier national park losing its glaciers with just 26 of 150 left

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/may/11/us-glacier-national-park-is-losing-its-glaciers-with-just-26-of-150-left

Extract:
Warming temperatures have rapidly reduced the size of 39 named glaciers in Montana since 1966, according to comparisons released by the US Geological Survey (USGS) and Portland State University. Some have lost as much as 85% of their expanse over the past 50 years, with Glacier national park, site of 37 of the surveyed glaciers, set to lose all of its eponymous ice formations within the next few decades. Of the 150 glaciers that existed in the park in the late 19th century, only 26 remain.
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RoxTheGeologist

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Sigmetnow

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Re: Glaciers worldwide decline faster than ever
« Reply #21 on: August 15, 2017, 03:50:36 AM »
Glacier National Park is overcrowded. Thanks, climate change.
A record-breaking 1 million people visited Glacier in July, up 23 percent from last year. Park officials are stuck dealing with overcrowded parking lots, more medical emergencies, and a shortage of open campsites.

While the number of visitors has fluctuated in past decades, it’s been on the rise over the past five years. Some attribute the park’s popularity to low gas prices (perfect for road trips!) and all the envy-inducing photos making their way to Instagram, while others blame our old pal climate change: All but 26 of the 150 glaciers that existed in Glacier National Park in the late 1800s have melted away, and scientists say it’s “inevitable” we’ll lose the rest. Such predictions have prompted a wave of “doomsday tourists” who want to catch a glimpse of climate change in action.

“People tell us they want to see glaciers before they’re gone,” Pamela Smith, a Glacier campground volunteer, told the Missoulian. “They have come here to see the impacts of climate change for themselves.”
http://grist.org/briefly/glacier-national-park-is-overcrowded-thanks-climate-change/
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solartim27

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Re: Glaciers worldwide decline faster than ever
« Reply #22 on: October 21, 2017, 05:45:55 PM »
China has restricted tourism, and shut down industrial plants trying to save these glaciers.  Good story, though could easily be posted in Places becoming less livable thread.
http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2017/10/21/554271726/impossible-to-save-scientists-are-watching-chinas-glaciers-disappear
FNORD

TerryM

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Re: Glaciers worldwide decline faster than ever
« Reply #23 on: October 22, 2017, 07:35:36 PM »
China has restricted tourism, and shut down industrial plants trying to save these glaciers.  Good story, though could easily be posted in Places becoming less livable thread.
http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2017/10/21/554271726/impossible-to-save-scientists-are-watching-chinas-glaciers-disappear
Karez, the name for the underground channels bringing glacial water to dry regions is a new word to me. Reminiscent of the ancient qanat from Libya that inspired Qaddafi to build the Great Man-Made River that brought water to so many. It's recent destruction wasn't an accident.


A few posts up is a piece about the tourist uptick at Glacier National Park, strange how different governments respond to similar stimuli.


Sad
Terry