Glacier Melting Faster…

” … an accelerating trend with no apparent end in sight,…”

Edmonton Journal (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada)
Monday » March 17 » 2008

Glacier melt hits record rate, UN says
Huge losses in Europe spark renewed climate change fears

Reuters Sunday, March 16, 2008

OSLO – A thaw of the world’s glaciers has
accelerated to a new record with some of the
biggest losses within Europe, in a worrying sign
of climate change, the UN Environment Programme
said Sunday.

“Meltdown in the mountains,” UNEP said in a
statement, saying that a retreat of glaciers from
the Andes to the Arctic should add urgency to UN
negotiations on working out a new treaty by the
end of 2009 to combat global warming.

“Data from close to 30 reference glaciers in nine
mountain ranges indicate that between the years
2004-2005 and 2005-2006 the average rate of
melting and thinning more than doubled,” it said.

Some of the biggest losses were in Europe — in
the Alps, the Pyrenees and the Nordic region —
according to the UNEP-backed World Glacier
Monitoring Service at the University of Zurich in

“The latest figures are part of what appears to
be an accelerating trend with no apparent end in
sight,” WGMS director Wilfried Haeberli said in a

The estimates, based on measuring the thickness
of glacier ice, indicated an average loss of
about 1.5 metres in 2006, up from just over half
a metre in 2005. UNEP said the thinning was the
fastest since monitoring began. Since 1980,
glaciers have thinned by about 11.5 metres in a
retreat blamed by the U.N. Climate Panel mainly
on human use of fossil fuels.

The thaw could disrupt everything from farming —
millions of people in Asia depend on seasonal
melt water from the Himalayas — and power
generation to winter sports. The thaw could also
raise world sea levels.

UNEP said glaciers were among the clearest
indicators of global warming. “There are many
canaries emerging in the climate change coal
mine. The glaciers are perhaps among those making
the most noise,” said Achim Steiner, head of UNEP.

Among big losers, Norway’s Breidalblikkbrea
glacier thinned by almost 3.1 metres during 2006
compared with 0.3 metres in 2005 and France’s
Ossoue glacier in the Pyrenees thinned by nearly
three metres versus around 2.7 metres in 2005.

© The Edmonton Journal 2008

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