Saturday, December 22, 2007

Global warming causing China's glaciers to melt quickly: survey

Terra Daily, via Agence France-Presse: Global warming has caused some of China's glaciers -- a source for many of Asia's greatest rivers -- to have melted by more than 18 percent over the past five years, state media reported Friday. A survey of nearly 20,000 square kilometres (8,000 square miles) of China's glaciers showed they were on average 7.4 percent smaller than five years ago, Caijing magazine said, citing a government-funded survey.

A glacier along the upper reaches of the Brahmaputra River on the Tibetan plateau had shrunk by more than 18 percent, the survey found. Two other glacial areas in China's far northwest Xinjiang region had also melted by more than 18 percent.

"Global warming is causing grave loss to glaciers and it has become a burning need to monitor changes of glacial reserves," the researchers from the China Academy of Sciences said as they released their findings. The survey, covering roughly one third of China's glaciers, was conducted to trace the impacts of global warming.

China's glaciers, in the west of the country, feed many of Asia's greatest rivers, including the Yangtze, Mekong, Yellow and Ganges, as well as the Brahmaputra. In the past four decades, China's glaciers shrank by 3,248 square kilometres, or 5.5 percent since the 1960s, according to previous studies published in the state-run press. One of China's top glaciologists, Yao Tangdong, warned last year of an "ecological catastrophe" in Tibet because of global warming. He said most glaciers in the region could melt away by 2100.

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