Washington: Earth’s glaciers are melting much faster than scientists thought. A new study shows they are losing 369 billion tons of snow and ice each year, more than half of that in North America.
The most comprehensive measurement of glaciers worldwide found that thousands of inland masses of snow compressed into ice are shrinking 18 per cent faster than an international panel of scientists calculated in 2013. The world’s glaciers are shrinking five times faster now than they were in the 1960s. Their melt is accelerating due to global warming and adding more water to already rising seas, the study found.
“Over 30 years suddenly almost all regions started losing mass at the same time. That’s clearly climate change if you look at the global picture,” said lead author Michael Zemp, director of the World Glacier Monitoring Service at the University of Zurich.
The glaciers shrinking fastest are in central Europe, the Caucasus region, western Canada, the US, New Zealand and near the tropics. Glaciers in these places on average are losing more than 1 per cent of their mass each year, according to a study in Monday’s journal Nature. “In these regions, at the current glacier loss rate, the glaciers will not survive the century,” Zemp said.
Zemp’s team used ground and satellite measurements to look at 19,000 glaciers, far more than previous studies. They determined that southwestern Asia is the only region of 19 where glaciers are not shrinking, which Zemp said is due to local climate conditions. Since 1961, the world has lost 10.6 trillion tons of ice and snow (9.6 trillion metric tons), the study found. That’s enough to cover the lower 48 US states in about 4 feet of ice.
Scientists have known for a long time that global warming caused by human activities like burning coal, gasoline and diesel for electricity and transportation is making Earth lose its ice. They have been especially concerned with the large ice sheets covering Greenland and Antarctica.
This study, “is telling us there’s much more to the story,” said Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado, who wasn’t part of the study. “The influence of glaciers on sea level is bigger than we thought.”
A number of factors are making sea levels rise. The biggest cause is that oceans are getting warmer, which makes water expand. The new figures show glacier melt is a bigger contributor than thought, responsible for about 25-30 per cent of the yearly rise in oceans, Zemp said.
Rising seas threaten coastal cities around the world and put more people at risk of flooding during storms. Glaciers grow in winter and shrink in summer, but as the Earth has warmed, they are growing less and shrinking more. Zemp said warmer summer temperatures are the main reason glaciers are shrinking faster.
While people think of glaciers as polar issues, shrinking mountain glaciers closer to the equator can cause serious problems for people who depend on them, said Twila Moon, a snow and ice data centre scientist who also wasn’t part of the study. She said people in the Andes, for example, rely on the glaciers for drinking and irrigation water each summer.
A separate study Monday in Environmental Research Letters confirmed faster melting and other changes in the Arctic. It found that in winter, the Arctic is warming 2.8 times faster than the rest of the Northern Hemisphere. Overall, the region is getting more humid, cloudier and wetter. “It’s on steroids, it’s hyperactive,” said lead author Jason Box, a scientist for the Danish Meteorological Institute.
Death toll due to Nepal floods reaches 67
Kathmandu: The death toll from the monsoon floods and landslides in Nepal has increased to 67, while 32 people were reported missing and over 40 others injured, officials said.
The Nepal Police said in a statement that the victims comprised 41 men and 26 women, reports Xinhua news agency.
“At least 1,445 people from different districts have been rescued successfully and evacuated to safer destinations,” the statement said.
According to the Home Ministry, around 35,000 people were affected by the disasters particularly in the low-lying areas known as Terai region. More than 20 of Nepal`s 77 districts were worst-hit due to the floods and landslides.
The Nepal Army, Nepal Police and Armed Police Force were deployed in the disaster-hit districts to carry out rescue and relief operations.
Residents were displaced after the swollen rivers breached the embankment and gushed into human settlements, especially in Province 2. Over 13,000 families were displaced in Province 2 alone where around 3,500 houses were completely damaged.
The provincial governments announced separate relief packages for the victims, including cash for the families of those who lost their members and free treatment of the injured. The local governments in coordination with different agencies distributed food items, clothes and tarpaulins to the highly affected communities.
The Health Emergency Operation Centre said that different medical teams with doctors were mobilized in the hard-hit districts to ensure health services to the affected people.
“There is a high risk of possible outbreaks of different water-borne diseases like diarrhea, dysentery, dengue, typhoid among others,” Ghanashyam Pokharel, health official at Epidemiology and Disease Control Division, told Xinhua.
US says asylum seekers from India rising as Trump adds yet another roadblock
New York/Washington: The Trump administration unveiled a new rule to bar almost all immigrants from applying for asylum at the southern border, requiring them to first pursue safe haven in a third country through which they had travelled on the way to the United States.
The Department of Homeland Security, in a statement issued with the Department of Justice, said the rule would set a “new bar” for immigrants “by placing further restrictions or limitations on eligibility for aliens who seek asylum in the United States.”
The American Civil Liberties Union called the new rule “patently unlawful” and vowed to file a lawsuit against it, while a host of experts also questioned its legality.
“The interim regulation violates the clear language of the law in several respects,” Stephen Legomsky, a former chief counsel of US Citizenship and Immigration Services, told Reuters in an email.
The United Nations refugee agency UNHCR said it was “deeply concerned” about the measure, saying it would “put vulnerable families at risk” and undermine international efforts to find a coordinated solution.
Designated an “interim final rule,” the measure goes into effect, potentially shifting the burden onto poorly equipped countries like Mexico and Guatemala to process asylum claims.
The rule would make it all but impossible for asylum-seekers to gain legal entry to the United States unless they first apply for asylum in a “third country.”The proposed changes represent the latest effort by the Trump administration to crack down on immigration, the signature issue that helped propel Trump to the White House in the 2016 election and one already figuring prominently in the 2020 campaign.
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the Trump administration had overreached its authority and violated the law.
“The President is devastating lives, dishonouring our values and departing from decades of precedent and law in his haste to destroy the lifeline of asylum in America,” Pelosi said in a statement.
While Democratic politicians have sought to portray the Trump policies as inhumane, the president`s supporters are certain to be pleased at another gesture making good on campaign promises to sharply curtail immigration.
Trump on Monday declared “very successful” what he had billed as a sweeping operation to arrest undocumented immigrants this past weekend. US authorities launched small-scale operations aimed at about 2,000 recently arrived families in about 10 cities.
The operations come as the Trump administration faces criticism for housing immigrants in overcrowded, unsanitary conditions, and there are concerns about migrant children being separated from adults by US authorities.
Iran says may ‘reverse’ nuclear programme to pre-deal status
Tehran: Iran’s atomic energy agency said it could reverse its nuclear programme to its status before curbs were imposed under a landmark 2015 agreement with world powers.
“If the Europeans and the Americans don’t want to carry out their duties… we will decrease our commitments and… reverse the conditions to four years ago,” agency spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said, quoted by IRNA state news agency.
“These actions are not out of obstinacy. It is to give diplomacy a chance so that the other side come to their senses and carry out their duties,” he added.
The deal promised economic benefits and sanctions relief to Iran, but US President Donald Trump withdrew from the accord in May 2018 and reimposed tough punitive measures against the Islamic republic.
Angered that its beleaguered economy is not receiving the relief it believes it was promised under the deal, Iran has intensified sensitive uranium enrichment work.
European foreign ministers were meeting in Brussels on Monday for crisis talks on the deal.
The European parties to the deal — Britain, France and Germany — called for dialogue as tensions further intensified between Iran and the United States.
In a statement, the so-called E3 expressed concern the deal was at risk of further unravelling but said it was up to Iran to ensure its survival.
Iran has repeatedly threatened to leave the deal unless the remaining parties to the agreement bypass US sanctions and deliver the promised benefits.