Thursday, January 25, 2007

Glaciers going with the Arctic Ice

Back in December there were articles about Arctic ice disappearing by 2040. Here's an more recent bit that suggests that our glaciers won't last much longer than the ice:

Experts: Alps glaciers will melt by 2050
VIENNA — Glaciers will all but disappear from the Alps by 2050, scientists warned Monday, basing their bleak outlook on mounting evidence of slow but steady melting of the continental ice sheets.

In western Austria's Alpine province of Tyrol, glaciers have been shrinking by about 3% a year, said Roland Psenner of the University of Innsbruck's Institute for Ecology.

And 2050 is a conservative estimate, he said: If they keep melting at that rate, most glaciers could vanish by 2037.

"The future looks rather liquid," he said.

. . .

In 2005, glacier thickness decreased by an average of 23 1/2 inches, and in 2004 by an average of 27 1/2 inches, the Swiss agency said, citing preliminary measurements. Since 1980, it said, Europe's glaciers have lost about 31 1/2 feet of ice. About 7 feet melted away in a single summer — 2003 — when a heat wave zapped much of Europe, said Michael Zemp, a glacier expert at the University of Zurich.

Later on the article points out that glaciers are one of our largest sources of fresh water. The disappearance of the glaciers isn't just cosmetic. It will affect stream and river levels worldwide and shift our reliance more towards groundwater pumping. Those who balk at changing proactively as a result of global warming need to reqlize that the change is coming, will-he nill-he.

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