It’s quite possible that the next decade will see the first Africas rare glaciers retreat.
New scientific research can finally get to the bottom of the mystery of why some glaciers are disappearing from our planet.
While this kind of news is good for science, it’s can’t be good news for the rest of us.
You have probably already seen pictures or video of the ice-melting glaciers. Some of you may even know where they are situated; some may just live in their valleys right now, frozen over for years. Others have discovered these lush green masses while scouring the topography in search of water. In all cases, it’s pretty hard not to be moved by the sight; the beauty, the loveliness, the alpine landscapes of some of these ice masses. If you haven’t seen them, do yourself a favor and check them out; you’re sure to fall in love with them.
For others, however, the sight is only fresh in their memory. The rapid melting of the ice masses has meant that many of the glaciers in existence today are smaller than they were thirty years ago. This can be disheartening to those who love to visit Grand Teton Park in Rocky Mountain National Park, or other cold weather destinations. In fact, some climate researchers have warned that we are already seeing shrinking glaciers at least five countries away from North America.
One can only imagine how much worse things will get.
What exactly is causing these vanishing glaciers?
As they melt, they are draining the snow that lies on top of them and carrying it off into other areas. They are losing mass; the white furrows that mark their surface is gradually disappearing. The most common cause is melting lakes. Lakes are dropping below their normal levels due to increasing water levels due to melting snow, and the precipitation that falls as rain is no longer enough to keep them filled. When this happens, the water slowly trickles down into valleys, then down the sides of mountains, and finally emptying into rivers and streams.
Other causes have been solar storms. If a large storm comes through the area, it can cause hail, which is magnetized. When this hit the ice, it can cause the water to melt. This is why we see so much disappearing.
One of the biggest effects though is directly related to global warming. As the Earth warms, the glaciers are also likely to melt. This has been noted, for example, in South Africa, where a massive ice sheet reduction has been recorded over the last few decades. It is a very real problem and one that is not going away, unless something is done about it.
There is hope for the future however. Recent research shows that we may be able to use ice melt from thinning glaciers to help us produce electricity. Scientists have recently been successful in creating electricity by melting more ice; they are testing several different methods right now, but it appears to be possible to use this to produce enough electricity to power cities all over the world.
If you want to help stop the loss of these rare glaciers, its probably best to stay in tune with whats going on. Everyone needs to be aware of what is happening in the world. Start collecting information on the rarest ice sheets; visit conservation centers and watch videos about climate change.
Africa’s Glacial Edge – How Can We Protect Glacier-Free Wilderness?
A recent article in the Online Journal of Environmental Sciences dealt with the recent Trends in Glacier retreats and suggested that it is time to turn up the heat on Africa’s glaciers. Global warming may be to blame for accelerating retreats of some glaciers around the world, particularly in the Polar Regions. The article cited a recent study that showed that the rate of glacier’s retreat is double what has been previously thought. This study was led by lead author Mark Pagani.
Most people are not aware that the melting of the ice shelves cause global sea level rise. And it is well known that climate change contributes to increased precipitation. These factors present a unique opportunity to intervene, and work towards conserving the Earth’s natural systems, for the benefit of future generations. This is especially important considering the growing threats that climate change presents.
Some glaciers are receding at an alarming rate, while others have lost a great deal of their ice. There are also increasing concerns about other types of glaciers disappearing. This calls upon us to act swiftly to mitigate the risk presented by melting glaciers, and thus increase global stability.
This is precisely what the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change (IPCC) attempts to do. In their report, the scientists claim to have “indicated” that the recent slowdown in the warming is being caused by a failure to account for some of the natural variations that affect climate. This could result in a new research and analysis to refine the climate model and result in better predictions for the future. This has the potential to substantially improve projections of sea level rise over the next century.
The studies being done may provide a great deal of insight into the relationship between greenhouse gas emissions, sea level rise, and glacier melt. It is unknown, however, if the increased melt will make the problem worse. If it does, that would mean that we may be at greater risk of losing some of our ice-rich glaciers. One thing is for sure: it is something worth watching. If this continues, it means that future sea levels may well exceed those considered safe by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change’s climate report. And that could put many people at risk of serious flooding and the loss of valuable lands and habitats.
The fact that global climate change has reached such a dramatic stage is no surprise. With greenhouse gas emissions are becoming the norm, it is not surprising that we can see the effects all around us. From hurricanes and floods to the shrinking of the arctic ice sheet, the evidence is everywhere. And this is why it is important to pay attention to the latest research.
It is also important to take a close look at what might be causing such rapid melting in one region, while ignoring the others. While it is true that the culprits driving climate change are mostly man made, there is little that humans can do about the global scale. As with global warming, the culprit here is mostly gases emitted from the burning of fossil fuels. As these emissions continue to build up in the atmosphere, we can expect sea levels to rise. This will raise a lot of problems for coastal regions, which already face other threats.
What can we, as people living in areas prone to sea level rise, do to try to stop it?
First, we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, because they are the major reason why glaciers are disappearing. Second, we need to develop new ways to make energy use more efficient, so that we can keep global temperatures from rising too much. Third, we need to invest in projects to preserve water supplies, so that future generations have something to do other than watch as their world slowly crumbles around them.
Provided by Antonio Westley
Disclaimer: This article is meant to be seen as an overview of this subject and not a reflection of viewpoints or opinions as nothing is definitive. So, make sure to do your research and feel free to use this information at your own discretion.