From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Factors contributing to the melting of glaciers
Mains level : Paper 3- Glaciers melting rapidly
Glaciers shrinking faster than before
- A new study by ETH Zurich and University of Toulouse researchers finds that the world’s glaciers are shrinking at a faster rate than before.
- If the trend continues this will put the densely-populated parts of Asia at risk of flood and water shortages.
- The study found the world’s ice fields lost 298 gigatons of ice per year from 2015 to 2019, a 30% increase in the rate of retreat compared with the previous five years.
- Glaciers in Alaska, the Alps and Iceland are among those disappearing at the fastest pace.
- The scientists used images from a special camera aboard NASA’s Terra satellite, which has circled the Earth every 100 minutes since its launch in 1999.
- The situation in the Himalayas is particularly worrying.
- Swathes of India and Bangladesh could face water stress during dry periods when major rivers like the Ganges and Indus are mainly fed by glacial runoff.
- Glaciers typically accumulate ice in the winter, but a warming climate means summer melting has outstripped those gains and caused a net loss of ice in mountain regions.
- The melting in turn contributes to global warming and indirectly accelerates sea level rise, raising the risk of flooding faced by coastal communities.