Monday, August 18, 2014

Tibetan plateau warmest in 2000 years, poses risk of natural disasters

Anu Passary in Tech Times: Concerns surrounding global warming are constantly growing and fears of environmentalists are not unwarranted, as a new study reveals that the Tibetan plateau has been the warmest in the last 2000 years.

The Tibetan plateau's glacier supplies water to several million people in Asia and the study conducted by the Chinese Academy of Sciences' (CAS) Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research reveals that the plateau had been warmer in the last five decades when compared to any period in the past two millennia. "Over the past 50 years, the rate of temperature rise has been double the average global level," according to the report on the website of Science and Technology Daily per Reuters.

There's no silver lining either as researchers opine that the plateau will get more humid and hotter with the passage of time in the coming decades. This will in turn result in the shifting of glaciers and increase in desertification.

What's worrying is that the glacier retreat may upset water supply to Asian rivers that originate in the plateau like India's Brahmaputra, China's Yangtze Kiang and Yellow River, as well as the Mekong and Salween. The hazards of natural disasters like landslides and heavy floods will likely increase because of the warmer climate.

Earlier in May 2014, scientists revealed that Tibetan glaciers had shrunk 8,000 square kms or nearly 15 percent in the last three decades. However, there is a silver lining as according to the report, the ecosystem of the Tibetan plateau (which is at an elevation of 4,500 meters) has seen an overall improvement thanks to the expansion of the forest area as well as the temperate zone. Moreover, the damage to the wetlands has reduced since 2000....

A Tibetan glacier in autumn, shot by Jan Reurink, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license 

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