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.
Trump hints at some announcement at ‘Howdy Modi!’ event in Houston
US President Donald Trump has hinted that there “could be” some announcement by him at the mega “Howdy Modi!” event in Houston on Sunday, where he would join Prime Minister Narendra Modi in addressing the 50,000-strong Indian diaspora.
The White House on Monday announced that Trump would join Modi at the mega Houston rally on September 22 as a “special gesture” by the US President to underscore the special bond between the two countries.It is for the first time that Trump and Modi would share a stage together. The event is the third meeting between the two leaders in three months, after the G-20 summit in Japan in June and the G-7 summit in France last month.
“Could be. I have a very good relationship with Prime Minister Modi,” Trump told reporters on Wednesday aboard Air Force One on his way back from California to Washington DC. He did not elaborate.He was responding to a question if there would be any announcement when he goes to Houston for the rally with the Indian leader.
According to media reports, officials of the two countries are trying to finalise a trade deal before Modi and Trump meet in Houston.
Trade tensions between India and the US have been rising with Trump complaining that tariffs imposed by New Delhi on American products were “no longer acceptable”.
The US in June terminated India’s designation as beneficiary developing country under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) programme.
India imposed retaliatory tariffs on 28 US products, including almonds and apples from June 5, after the Trump administration revoked its preferential trade privileges.
Reacting to a record number of 50,000 Indian-Americans registering for the event, Trump said the crowd for the event had now become bigger after it was announced that he would be going there.
“He (Modi) has got a big crowd coming and I guess the crowd just got a lot bigger because they just announced–he asked, would I go, and I will go,” Trump said.
After the Houston event, Trump would travel to Ohio for an event with the visiting Australian Prime Minister.
“Then we’re stopping in Ohio on the way back and then I guess we do the United Nations the following week,” the US President said.
Trump also said that he had a great relationship with both India and Pakistan.
Modi will be visiting the US from September 21-27 for the annual session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). It is his first US trip after winning a second term as prime minister in May.
The two leaders are again scheduled to meet later in the week in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) session.
Kashmir may not be a major topic during PM Modi-Xi Jinping summit next month: China
China on Tuesday said the Kashmir issue may not be a “major topic” of discussion during the planned 2nd informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping, notwithstanding the high voltage campaign by its close ally Pakistan over India revoking the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
Tension between India and Pakistan escalated after New Delhi revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status on August 5. Reacting to India’s move on Kashmir, Pakistan downgraded diplomatic ties with New Delhi and expelled the Indian High Commissioner.
A senior Chinese official said it should be left to Modi and Xi on the issues they would like to discuss.
“As for Kashmir will be on the agenda, I’m not sure because this is kind of informal summit and leaders’ meeting I think better we need to give the leaders much time to discuss whatever they would like to discuss,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a media briefing here.
“For this kind of informal summit, I think it is better to leave the leaders much time to discuss whatever they would like to discuss,” she said.
Hua said Kashmir may not be a major topic of discuss between the two leaders. “I think for those things like Kashmir, I don’t think it will be a major topic occupying the talks, that is my understanding,” she said.
“But for the leaders, they will be free to talk about whatever they like,” Hua said, responding to a question.
China, the all-weather ally of Pakistan, already tried to take the Kashmir issue to the UN Security Council last month. But a closed-door meeting of the UNSC, in a snub to both Beijing and Islamabad, ended without any outcome or statement.
European Parliament set to discuss Kashmir
Brussels, Sep 17: The European Parliament is expected to hold discussions on the Kashmir issue on Tuesday, the media reported.
After India scrapped its Constitution”s Articles 370 and 35A, which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir, and divided the state into two union territories, Islamabad has been crying foul over New Delhi”s move and continuously trying to highlight the issue on a global level.
However, Pakistan has failed to get the international community to censure India.
The report said that in early September, the European Parliament “had debated an urgent resolution for the horrible conditions, including human rights violations, in Indian-occupied Kashmir”.
The European Union”s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, delivered a detailed policy statement on the Kashmir situation on September 17, it said. (IANS)