UN Says Glaciers Under Threat

September 02, 2008 08:52 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Glaciers could disappear from the world’s mountain ranges unless governments take action, warns the UN’s environmental agency.

UNEP Releases New Report

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is urging that the international community improve the monitoring of glaciers and ice caps in certain regions of the world, including Central Asia, the Tropics and the Polar regions.

In a new report, the agency warned that shrinking and thinning of glaciers across the globe is occurring at an alarming rate due to climate change, and could put water supplies at risk for millions of people. According to the report, glaciers are melting at an annual rate double that of the rate before the turn of the millennium.

“[T]he ongoing trend of global and rapid, if not accelerating, glacier shrinkage on the century time scale is of non-periodic nature and may lead to the deglaciation of large parts of many mountain ranges in the coming decades,” the report warned.

Background: Glaciers melting faster than expected

The UNEP announced in March that glaciers were melting faster than expected, with data from the World Glacier Monitoring Service showing record losses.

UNEP executive director Achim Steiner said earlier this year that the rate of deglaciation makes it necessary that “everyone sits up and takes notice.” Steiner said that the 2009 climate convention that is scheduled to take place in Copenhagen will be a test of governments’ commitment to reducing emissions.

“Otherwise, and like the glaciers, our room for manoeuvre and the opportunity to act may simply melt away,” Steiner said.

Related Topic: ‘North Pole May Be Ice-Free This Summer’

Earlier this year, scientists warned that Arctic ice is melting at an unprecedented rate, and that the North Pole could be completely ice-free by the end of the summer.

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