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The glaciers in Alaska, the Andes, the Alps and the Himalayas are shrinking. The ice sheets in the Arctic and Antarctic are also losing their volume. Researchers worldwide know 5200 glaciers in 19 regions of the earth and know that since the time around 1900 they lose more mass than increase.

During the few years of the 21st century, glacial ice is falling back faster than before - like the Columbia Glacier in Alaska: Up above its condition in 2015, down in 2009. "The main reason for the recently accelerated decline in ice is warmer temperatures" said geologists around Patrick Burkhart of Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania. The result is a steady rise in sea level. With a temperature rise of two degrees by 2050 on average, the seas could rise by 20 centimeters, according to a research team led by Svetlana Jevrejeva of the National Oceanography Center in Liverpool. Less glacier mass also means that less water is bound in the ice in winter, which would then be available during the summer as drinking water, for irrigation in agriculture or to power hydroelectric power plants.

The reason for the rise in temperature: "All the research taken together provides a high degree of certainty that the warming caused mainly by man-made greenhouse gas emissions triggers the glacier's decline." This is the explanation given by slippery researchers Patrick Burkhart Rock University, Richard Alley of Pennsylvania State University, Lonnie Thompson of Ohio State University, James Balog of the Earth Vision Institute of Boulder, Paul Baldauf of Nova Southeastern University and Gregory Baker of the University of Kansas. So six out of an estimated 400, 000 climate researchers around the world who also believe that global warming is man-made.


Photos: James Balog and the Extreme Ice Survey


  • Patrick A. Burkhart et al., Savor the Cryosphere, GSA Today 2017
© - Karin Schlott
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