Everest disaster: Mountain's glaciers are rapidly disappearing
Climate change is causing the highest glacier on Mount Everest to melt rapidly. This is evidenced by the results of a new study conducted by scientists from the University of Maine, reports the BBC.
Researchers have found that over the past 25 years, the South Col Pass glacier has lost more than 180 feet (54 m) of thickness. The rate of melting is attributed to warming and strong winds.
The scientists who conducted the study found that since the 1990s, the ice, which took about 2,000 years to form, has melted. The thick snow cover of the glacier has been eroded, exposing the underlying black ice to the sun and hastening the melting process.
The findings suggest that the South Col glacier may disappear – it may already be a “relic” an older, colder time.” The scientists reported that there was not a single change in the region's climate that would cause a surge in melting.
Although the melting of glaciers is a fairly well-studied topic, the impact of climate change on glaciers at this altitude has not been previously studied. A group of 10 scientists visited glacier, where they set up two of the world's highest weather stations and took samples from an ice core 10 meters (about 32 feet) long. The scientists also noted that rapid melting could have a wide range of “significant impacts both regionally and globally.”
About a billion people depend on the Himalayan mountain range for drinking water, and if others glaciers in the region – and around the world – will follow Everest's lead, their ability to provide water for drinking and irrigation could be significantly reduced.
Melting could also be a problem for climbers, as future expeditions up the mountain could face more exposed rock and ice cover, making it difficult to climb.