Global warming causes mass loss of glaciers in high mountains worldwide. Glaciers systems may show complexity and variation. However, the overall trends are clear: globally the glaciers recede, and this process is likely to accelerate in coming decades.
Glaciers act as “water towers”, storing freshwater in wintertime to release water gradually during dry summer seasons. River flow in dry seasons is crucial for agriculture in many regions. Should glaciers in general disappear, we are likely to see increased river flow in wintertimes, and the river reduced to a trickle or completely dry out during summer seasons, when the water is the most needed for irrigation.
Rapid melting of mountain glaciers destabilise mountainsides, hills and slopes. Severe landslides are one of the unpleasant results of severe glacier melting, and may cause massive damage.
A direct effect of glacier retreat is sea level rise. The water frozen in all the glaciers of the world, mainly in the ice sheets of Antarctica and Greenland, but also in South American glaciers on the retreat, smaller ice caps and glaciers, would be sufficient to raise sea level by 70 meters at a global level.GRID-Arendal/Polar times
Global water resources are facing increasing pressure from climate change and rising consumption. This problem is especially acute in the Hindu Kush Himalayan mountains, which are home to 1.3 billion people – more than the entire continent of Europe. These people live in one of the most populous, disaster-prone and vulnerable regions in the world, yet knowledge about the region’s climate is still limited and scattered. See video.
- World’s vanishing glaciers put millions at risk (May 2017)
- GRID-Arendal (2010) High mountain glaciers and climate change – Challenges to human livelihoods and adaptation
- The Front Lines of Climate Disruption: Alaskans Witness Collapsing Mountains, Shattered Lives (2016)
- Scientists struggle to keep up with melting Arctic (Sept 2016)
- Rift in Pine Island Glacier points to a coming, broader collapse (Nov 2016)
- New Studies Say Greenland’s Ice Sheet Could Melt Far Faster Than Scientists Believed (Dec 2016)
- Climate Link to Glacier Retreat Now Irrefutable (Dec 2016)
- Polar amplification
- Temperatures Skyrocket in Arctic, Prompt Desperate ‘Refreeze’ Plan (Feb 2017)
- Drastic cooling in North Atlantic beyond worst fears, scientists warn (Feb 2017)
- NASA : Stunning Photos Show Huge Crack in Antarctic Ice Shelf (Dec 2016)
- Antarctica’s Ice Shelves Melting Rapidly as Ocean Waters Warm (Nov 2016)
- “Unstoppable” Destabilization of West Antarctic Ice Sheet: Threshold May Have Been Crossed (NG, Nov 2016)
- Going, Going … Glacier National Park’s Iconic Glaciers Are Melting Away (May 2017)
- Ancient Andes glaciers have lost half their ice in just 40 years (New Scientist, 2016)
- Papers on melting glaciers
- In Alaska’s Thawing Permafrost, Humanity’s ‘Library Is on Fire’. Rising Arctic temperatures are destroying ancient artifacts once preserved in the frozen ground and taking a toll on native traditions that depend on the sea ice (Nov 2017)
|Home||Chapter 3||3. Impacts|
|3.1 More water vapor|
|3.2 Sea level rise|
|3.3 Polar sea ice|
|3.4 Air pollution|
|3.7 Extreme weather|
|3.9 Refugees and conflicts|
|3.11 Tipping points|
|Chapter 4||4. Ecosystems|