Mount Everest’s glaciers are melting and scientists are pointing to climate change as the culprit. The news was announced on Tuesday at the Meeting of the Americas in Cancun, Mexico.
Glaciers on and near Mount Everest have shrunk by 13 percent in the past 50 years, while the snowline of the world’s tallest peak has shifted upward by 590 feet.
Sudeep Thakuri, a graduate student at the University of Milan in Italy, and his colleagues released the information. They tracked changes the glaciers made, as well as temperatures and precipitation at Everest and the surrounding Sagarmatha National Park.
The world’s tallest peak is located in the Himalaya Mountains between China and Nepal. It reaches an impressive 29,029 feet above sea level.
Glaciers in Sagarmatha National Park have retreated about 1,300 feet since 1962. Precipitation has also dropped by 3.9 inches and temperatures have risen by one degree Fahrenheit since 1992. The researchers added that glaciers smaller than one square kilometer are disappearing faster than other ice structures. Thakuri added:
“The Himalayan glaciers and ice caps are considered a water tower for Asia since they store and supply water downstream during the dry season. Downstream populations are dependent on the melt water for agriculture, drinking, and power production.”
In their statement, Thakuri and his colleagues explained that they believe the glaciers on Mount Everest are melting due to “human-generated greenhouse gases altering global climate.” However, they cautioned that they have yet to establish “a firm connection between the mountains’ changes and climate change.”
Climate change has been considered as the culprit for several cases like the one on Mount Everest. The Arctic ice sheet has melted to near-record low levels, while the Antarctic sheet has also seen some ice loss. But despite the ice on Mount Everest melting, The Karakoram Mountains glaciers, located on the China-India-Pakistan border, have not seen much loss. Rather, they appear to be growing.
[Image via Luca Galuzzi]