Monday 24th October 2016                 Change text size:

Future looks unsteady for glaciers

Future looks unsteady for glaciers

The world is seeing huge shifts in its ice shelves and glaciers but what does this mean for the future?

The earth’s glaciers are out of balanceand on their way to losing almost 40% of their volume.

This alarming statistic was the result of a study conducted by a team of scientists from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. What is more alarming is that, having looked at 144 small and large glaciers around the world, the figure assumes that no further warming of the climate would occur.

If the earth’s temperatures continue to rise as previous research has predicted, the wastage will be even higher. A glacier is said to be in balance when the snow at higher, colder elevations equals the volume of snow and ice lost through melting at lower, warmer elevations. If melting dominates, the glacier will thin and retreat until it once again reaches a state of equilibrium.

Glaciers act as natural reservoirs, storing water deep within during the winter months until the summer, when the water is released. But warmer climates cause the glaciers to melt more frequently and at a faster rate.

Parts of Southern America are already experiencing low water levels because of changing glacial melt patterns; a problem that scientists previously believed lay several decades in the future.

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