China’s longest-tracked glacier to vanish in 50 years

Source:Global Times Published: 2017/5/24 18:58:39

An ancient glacier in Northwest China's Xinjiang will disappear within 50 years as temperatures increase with climate change, according to researchers.

The change not only may affect the millions of people who depend on the glacier for drinking water, but also forebodes the vanishing of ancient ice in the region altogether, they said.

Official data shows the thickness of Tianshan Glacier No.1, which has existed for 4.8 million years along China's Silk Road, is melting at an alarming rate - as much as 7.2 meters since April 2016 alone.

And No.1 is not the only glacier under threat. If temperatures continue to rise, a total 80 percent of the glaciers in Xinjiang's Tianshan Mountains will disappear by 2100.

"There were 155 glaciers in the Urumqi river basin. We've already lost 12," said Li Zhongqin, director at Tianshan Glaciological Station of Chinese Academy of Sciences.

This could have a tremendous impact on the water scarce region. Glacial melt currently makes up 25 percent of river water for Urumqi, Xinjiang's capital, a city of 3.55 million.

"Local rivers can become intermittent," said Li, "and the region already suffers from extreme water shortages."

Not only is Tianshan No.1 China's longest-tracked glacier, it has also served as a yardstick for the World Glacier Monitoring Service, which compiles data on glacier fluctuations across the globe.

Data shows the changes in Tianshan No. 1 reflect similar reductions in glacial volume in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan region and Glacier National Park. Scientists predict the majority of glaciers in these areas will also disappear by the end of the century if current temperature changes persist.

China Youth Daily

Posted in: ODD NEWS

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