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World's glaciers continue to melt at historic rates
Latest figures show the world's glaciers are continuing to melt so fast that many will disappear by the middle of this century
Monday 25 January 2010
Glaciers across the globe are continuing to melt so fast that many will disappear by the middle of this century, the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS) said today.
The announcement of the latest annual results from monitoring in nine mountain ranges on four continents comes as doubts have been cast on how much climate scientists have exaggerated the problem of glacier melt, which is seen as a leading indicator of how much the planet is heating up.
Last week the head of the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) apologised for "a paragraph" in its four-volume 2007 report which warned there was a "very high" risk that the Himalayan glaciers, on which at least half a billion of the world's poorest people depend for water, would disappear by 2035.
However the
director of the WGMS, Professor Wilfried Haeberli, said the latest global results indicated most glaciers were continuing to melt at historically high rates.
"The melting goes on," said Haeberli.
"It's less extreme than in years [immediately before] but what's really important is the trend of 10 years or so, and that shows an unbroken acceleration in melting."
Haeberli also repeated his warning that many glaciers are set to disappear in the next few decades, due to an expected continuation in the rise of global average temperatures.
The most vulnerable glaciers were those in lower mountain ranges like the Alps and the Pyrenees in Europe, in Africa, parts of the Andes in South and Central America, and the Rockies in North America, said Haeberli.
"We are on the path of the highest scenario [of global warming] in reality, but if you take a medium scenario in the Alps about 70% will be gone by the middle of the century, and mountain ranges like the Pyrenees may be completely ice-free."
Glaciers at much higher altitudes — particularly in the Himalayas and Alaska, where it was colder and global warming could increase snowfall — could grow in the short term and were likely to last "centuries", said Haeberli.
"But even for the large glaciers, for a realistic [mid-range warming] scenario, it's centuries, not millennia, and not many centuries," he added.
The WGMS records data for nearly 100 of the world's approximately 160,000 glaciers, including 30 "reference" glaciers, with data going back to at least 1980.
Scientists also use methods from geology to photos and travel journals and other data to estimate glacier sizes further back in history.
The latest preliminary figures for 2007-08 show the average reduction in thickness across all the 96 glaciers was nearly half a metre, and since 1980 they have collectively lost an average of 13m thickness.
During that year 30 of the 96 glaciers gained in mass.
Two years ago the WGMS preliminary figures revealed the biggest melt-rate in one year on record.
The figure was later revised so it was slightly less "catastrophic" than the other extreme year in 2002-03, said Haeberli.
The IPCC uses WGMS data throughout its report, but the offending statement regarding 2035 was blamed on a quote from a scientist given to a journalist, and never presented in a peer-reviewed journal.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010
 
Sunday, 16 March 2008
Glaciers suffer record shrinkage
Glacier. Image: Glaciers Online/Jurg Alean

Some glaciers in Europe have suffered significant losses
Some glaciers in Europe have suffered significant losses
Image: Glaciers Online
Jurg Alean
The rate at which some of the world's glaciers are melting has more than doubled, data from the United Nations Environment Programme has shown.
Average glacial shrinkage has risen from 30 centimetres per year between 1980 and 1999, to 1.5 metres in 2006.
Some of the biggest losses have occurred in the Alps and Pyrenees mountain ranges in Europe.
Experts have called for "immediate action" to reverse the trend, which is seen as a key climate change indicator.
Estimates for 2006 indicate shrinkage of 1.4 metres of 'water equivalent' compared to half a metre in 2005.
Achim Steiner, Under-Secretary General of the UN and executive director of its environment programme (UNEP), said: "Millions if not billions of people depend directly or indirectly on these natural water storage facilities for drinking water, agriculture, industry and power generation during key parts of the year.
"There are many canaries emerging in the climate change coal mine. The glaciers are perhaps among those making the most noise and it is absolutely essential that everyone sits up and takes notice.
Litmus test
He said that action was already being taken and pointed out that the elements of a green economy were emerging from the more the money invested in renewable energies.
Mr Steiner went on: "The litmus test will come in late 2009 at the climate convention meeting in Copenhagen.
"Here governments must agree on a decisive new emissions reduction and adaptation-focused regime. Otherwise, and like the glaciers, our room for manoeuvre and the opportunity to act may simply melt away."
Dr Ian Willis, of the Scott Polar Research Institute, said: "It is not too late to stop the shrinkage of these ice sheets but we need to take action immediately."
The findings were compiled by the World Glacier Monitoring Service which is supported by UNEP. Thickening and thinning is calculated in terms of 'water equivalent'.
Glaciers across nine mountain ranges were analysed.
Triftgletscher glacier in Switzerland   Image: Glaciers Online/Jurg Alean

Glaciers have been monitored for more than a century
Glaciers have been monitored for more than a century
Image: Glaciers Online
Jurg Alean
Dr. Wilfried Haeberli, director of the service, said: "The latest figures are part of what appears to be an accelerating trend with no apparent end in sight.
"This continues the trend in accelerated ice loss during the past two and a half decades and brings the total loss since 1980 to more than 10.5 metres of water equivalent."
During 1980-1999, average loss rates had been 0.3 metres per year. Since the turn of the millennium, this rate had increased to about half a metre per year.
The record annual loss during these two decades - 0.7 metres in 1998 - has now been exceeded by three out of the past six year (2003, 2004 and 2006).
On average, one metre water equivalent corresponds to 1.1 metres in ice thickness. That suggests a further shrinking in 2006 of 1.5 actual metres and since 1980 a total reduction in thickness of ice of just over 11.5 metres or almost 38 feet.
In its entirety, the research includes figures from around 100 glaciers, with data showing significant shrinkage taking place in European countries including Austria, Norway, Sweden, Italy, Spain and Switzerland.
Norway's Breidalblikkbrea glacier thinned by almost 3.1 metres in one of the largest reductions.
MMVIII
Due to US, European, South American and Asian imports,
China now World's No. 1
source of greenhouse gas emissions

Warming of glaciers threatens millions in China
Robert Collier, Chronicle Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Anyemaqen Mountains, China — More than 3 miles above sea level in these jagged, wind-scoured mountains, there's little doubt that global warming is endangering China's future.
Gyaring Lake
Source of Yellow River
The glaciers that ripple off the peaks of Anyemaqen, a mountain range in the western China province of Qinghai, are shrinking rapidly, endangering hundreds of millions of people who depend on the waters flowing eastward through the Yellow River.
With the rest of the country punished by record heat waves, floods and droughts this summer, it's no wonder that Beijing, which has long viewed global warming as a problem that rich nations should solve, is waking up to the fact that China may be especially at risk.
Qinghai, a poor, Texas-size stretch of the northern Tibetan is a plateau where yaks outnumber humans.
Qinghai Lake is a saltwater body about 200 miles away.
Deaths from floods, lightning and landslides across China in recent weeks have reached nearly 700, state media reported this week, and officials warned that global warming is likely to cause even more violent weather.
Records for worst-in-a-century rainstorms, droughts and heat waves are being broken more often
"The frequency and intensity of extreme weather events are increasing — records for worst-in-a-century rainstorms, droughts and heat waves are being broken more often," said Dong Wenjie, director-general of the Beijing Climate Center.
"This in fact is closely associated with global warming."
At Anyemaqen, a hike into the remote area last week by a Chronicle reporter found that the 5-mile-long Halong Glacier has shrunk by several hundred yards since it was last photographed by a Greenpeace activist in 2005 — and by a mile since a similar photo in 1981.
Local nomads say their livelihood is at stake.
"When I was a child, it was very cold and the grass was long, up to here," said Namgyal Tsering, a 22-year-old herder, motioning to his shin as he perched on a high ridge and watched his flock of sheep.
"Now the grass is short, and many people have moved into towns."
Area of glaciers has shrunk by 30 percent
The Qinghai-Tibetan plateau is warming up faster than anywhere else in the world, Chinese scientists said last week.
The region's average annual temperature is rising at a speed of 0.7 degrees Fahrenheit every 10 years, threatening to melt glaciers, dry up the 3,395-mile Yellow River and cause more droughts, sandstorms and desertification.
The plateau once contained 36,000 glaciers covering an area of 18,000 square miles, but in recent decades, the area of these glaciers has shrunk by 30 percent, say scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
The government has forcibly moved thousands of nomads into local towns, giving them free housing and 8,000 yuan (about $1,060) per year.
A scattering of interviews with the resettled nomads showed that while some liked their new life and some didn't, all agreed that their life before had become untenable.
"Before, there was no grass, and the rats dug holes everywhere and the ground was black," recalled Chith Tsering, holding her 1-year-old daughter as she multitasked around her family's three-room house in Dawu.
Even a sport utility vehicle
Since she moved from her remote grassland ranch three years ago, "it's better, but it's sad," she said.
Around Qinghai's steep canyons and rolling grassland, there's an obvious new prosperity among the rural Tibetan people.
China's surging economic boom has reached into even the most remote hamlets.
Nearly every tent or house has a new motorcycle — or even a sport utility vehicle — parked outside, evidence that rising demand by city dwellers for meat had driven up prices for the region's yaks and sheep.
From village to village, Tibetan Buddhist temples that were torn down during the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and early 1970s are now being rebuilt — often with money from newly wealthy businessmen in major cities such as Beijing and Guangzhou.
Spidery webs of prayer flags stretch up mountainsides at seemingly every bend in the road, a testament to the resurgence of ethnic Tibetans' spirituality as the Chinese government loosens its harsh restrictions on religious life.
China due to US, European, South American and Asian imports, world's No. 1 source of greenhouse gas emissions
The nationwide economic boom has propelled China into overtaking the United States as the world's No. 1 source of greenhouse gas emissions, according to new data released in May.
China's output of emissions is rising by an annual amount that far outstrips the cutbacks that wealthy nations are committed to make under the Kyoto Protocol.
"The Chinese government is gradually realizing that global warming is something that will deeply affect the Chinese people and their economic security," said Yang Ailun, climate program coordinator for Greenpeace in China.
In international climate negotiations, China's leaders have refused to consider binding limits on the country's emissions, arguing that limits should be imposed only on wealthy nations.
Instead, China has adopted a goal of reducing the amount of energy expended per unit of wealth — a weaker yardstick that many environmentalists have criticized as insufficient.
In recent months, however, officials have discussed these goals with increasing urgency, noting the recent extreme weather.
But the effects of climate change can be fickle, as Paulson found Monday.
During drought years in the late 1990s through 2005, the salt lake's area shrank by more than a fourth.
But during a Chronicle reporter's recent visit, the salt lake was brimming over its banks because of weeks of steady rains — the same weather pattern that, farther east, was causing severe flooding.
The hills surrounding the lake were verdant, and yaks have abundant pasture, locals said.
Downstream on the Yellow River, where farmers depend on the trickle to water their crops, floods and hail killed 17 people across four provinces last weekend alone.
Beijing inundated by torrential rains, Shanghai hit all-time record of 103 degrees Fahrenheit
Beijing was inundated by torrential rains Monday night, and Shanghai hit an all-time record of 103 degrees Fahrenheit over the weekend.
Two hundred miles south in Dawu, however, Chith Tsering said she was glad her family had moved off the land.
"The weather is changing, and it's so hard to make a living off your animals," she said.
"There are many people still on the land who are suffering."
©2007 San Francisco Chronicle
Ice-capped roof of world turns to desert
Scientists warn of ecological catastrophe across Asia as glaciers melt and continent's great rivers dry up
By Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor
Published: 07 May 2006
Global warming is rapidly melting the ice-bound roof of the world, and turning it into desert, leading scientists have revealed.
The Chinese Academy of Sciences — the country's top scientific body — has announced that the glaciers of the Tibetan plateau are vanishing so fast that they will be reduced by 50 per cent every decade.
Each year enough water permanently melts from them to fill the entire Yellow River.
The plateau, says the academy, has a staggering 46,298 glaciers, covering almost 60,000 square miles.
At an average height of 13,000 feet above sea level, they make up the largest area of ice outside the polar regions, nearly a sixth of the world's total.
The glaciers have been receding over the past four decades, as the world has gradually warmed up, but the process has now accelerated alarmingly.
Average temperatures in Tibet have risen by 2 degrees Fahrenheit over the past 20 years, causing the glaciers to shrink by 7 per cent a year, which means that they will halve every 10 years.
Prof Dong Guangrong, speaking for the academy — after a study analysing data from 680 weather stations scattered across the country — said that the rising temperatures would thaw out the tundra of the plateau, turning it into desert.
He added: "The melting glaciers will ultimately trigger more droughts, expand desertification and increase sand storms."
The water running off the plateau is increasing soil erosion and so allowing the deserts to spread.
Sandstorms
Sandstorms, blowing in from the degraded land, are already plaguing the country.
So far this year, 13 of them have hit northern China, including Beijing.
Three weeks ago one storm swept across an eighth of the vast country and even reached Korea and Japan.
On the way, it dumped a mind-boggling 336,000 tons of dust on the capital, causing dangerous air pollution.
The rising temperatures are also endangering the newly built world's highest railway, which is due to go into operation this summer.
Permafrost
They threaten to melt the permafrost under the tracks of the £1.7bn Tibetan railway, constructed to link the area with China's northwestern Qinghai province.
Perhaps worst of all, the melting threatens to disrupt water supplies over much of Asia.
Many of the continent's greatest rivers — including the Yangtze, the Indus, the Ganges, the Brahmaputra, the Mekong and the Yellow River — rise on the plateau.
In China alone, 300 million people depend on water from the glaciers for their survival.
Yet the plateau is drying up, threatening to escalate an already dire situation across the country.
Already 400 cities are short of water; in 100 of them — including Beijing — the shortages are becoming critical.
Even hopes that the melting glaciers might provide a temporary respite, by increasing the amount of water flowing off the plateau — have been dashed.
For most of the water is evaporating before it reaches the people that need it — again because of the rising temperatures brought by global warning.
Yao Tandong, head of the academy's Qinghai-Tibet Plateau Research Institute, summed it up.
"The full-scale glacier shrinkage in the plateau regions will eventually lead to an ecological catastrophe," he said.
©2006 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd.  All rights reserved
Washington State's Glaciers are Melting, and that has scientists concerned
WASHINGTON — With more glaciers than any state in the Lower 48, Washington state has emerged as a bellwether for global warming.
The signs are not encouraging.
A national environmental group recently reported that North Cascades and Mount Rainier are among the dozen national parks most susceptible to climate change.
At Mount Rainier, which has more glacial ice than the rest of the Cascades combined and is among the best studied sites in the nation, the area covered by glaciers shrank by more than a fifth from 1913 to 1994, and the volume of the glaciers by almost one-fourth, the National Park Service says.   From 1912 to 2001, the Nisqually Glacier on Mount Rainier retreated nearly a mile.
Since the first stirrings of the Industrial Revolution 150 years ago, glaciers in the northern Cascades have shrunk by 40 percent, and the pace is accelerating.   The South Cascades Glacier, one of the most studied in the nation, has lost roughly half its mass since 1928.
In the Olympic Mountains, glaciers have lost about one-third of their mass.
"They are the canary in the coal mine," Ed Josberger, the head of the U.S. Geological Survey's ice and climate project in Tacoma, said of the glaciers in Washington state.   "They are changing fast, and this is not good."
The state's official climatologist, Philip Mote, agreed.
"Everything is now retreating, and the smaller glaciers are disappearing," said Mote, a research scientist at the University of Washington, who's guarded in attributing the changes directly to global warming but concedes that the evidence is mounting.
Glaciers are affected by two climatic conditions: snowfall, which adds to their mass during the winter, and warm temperatures, which spur melting in the summer.   The amount of snow falling in the Northwest is declining, while temperatures are rising.
During the 20th century, Mote said, temperatures in the region rose about 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit.   In western Washington state, Mote said, the increase was even greater, roughly 2 degrees.
Despite some heavy snowfalls in the late 1990s — in the winter of 1998-99, Mount Baker recorded a record snowfall of 1,100 inches — the overall trend is negative.
"The decline in snowfall in the Northwest has been the largest in the West, and it is clearly related to temperature," Mote said.
The glaciers in Washington state aren't the only ones retreating.   From the Arctic to Peru and from Greenland and Europe to East Africa, there are reports that glaciers are shrinking.
There are exceptions.   Glaciers on California's Mount Shasta, at the southern end of the Cascade range, have been growing, Mote said.   Recent studies indicate that glaciers also might be growing in the Himalayas and other Asian mountain ranges.
No one is quite sure what causes these anomalies.
"The signature of human influence on climate is pretty clear on the continental scale and the regional scale," Mote said.   But when it comes to smaller geographic areas, Mote said, the picture is unclear.
Other scientists are convinced that global warming has caused glaciers to retreat in the Northwest and elsewhere.
"This is what the models predicted," said Joe Reidel, the park geologist for the North Cascades National Park.   "They are melting fast.   There can be pauses of five or six years, but they are still shrinking rapidly."
Reidel has been studying glaciers in the North Cascades for 15 years.   Scientists use everything from ice-penetrating radar to satellite imagery to on-the-ground observations to track the glaciers.
They've been methodically studying the South Cascades Glacier for 50 years and observing glacial changes on Mount Rainier since the late 1800s.
"There is no question glaciers are a dramatic indicator of climate," Reidel said.
The National Park Service has been supportive of his research, Reidel said, but it's harder to find more funding through federal grants.
"Money is getting tougher and tougher to come by," he said.
Reidel thinks the glaciers and the Earth's climate might be reaching a tipping point from which there may be no recovery.
There's more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere now than at any time in the past 20 million years, Reidel said.
Carbon dioxide, thought to be a key ingredient in global warming, is emitted by burning fossil fuels such as coal or oil, among other things.   Research has shown that none of the other warm periods in the past 20 million years had such a high concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, he said.
"It is clear it is human-induced," Reidel said.
Scientists are still trying to determine what changes the Northwest may experience from global warming.   But Reidel said it was clear that stream flows would be reduced as the glaciers shrank, affecting the region's extensive system of hydroelectric dams and salmon and other fish.
Reidel said summer flows in one drainage in the North Cascades had dropped by 25 percent; if the glaciers disappear they'll fall by another 20 percent.
"Some reservoirs get 20, 30 and even 40 percent of their water during the summer from glaciers," he said.
Reidel said no one knew for sure whether Washington state's mountain glaciers would disappear eventually.
"Without a doubt, global warming is real," he said.   "We need to get past that debate.   People are paying attention to what is happening to the glaciers in Washington state.   They could change even more rapidly if we reach a certain threshold."
Here are some quick facts on glaciers in Washington state:
— The 25 major glaciers on Mount Rainier collectively form the largest collection of permanent ice on a single U.S. mountain outside Alaska.   They cover about 34 square miles or about 1 cubic mile.
— The North Cascades National Park has 318 glaciers, or about 60 percent of the land covered by glaciers in the United States outside Alaska.   The park and nearby areas have about 42 square miles of ice.
— Long ago, mile-thick glaciers flowing down from the Olympic Mountains gouged out Puget Sound, isolating the Olympic Peninsula from the mainland.   The Olympics have about 18 square miles of ice.
Source: US National Resources Defense Council
       Les Blumenthal      August 29, 2006      
      © 2006 McClatchy Washington Bureau      
      and wire service sources      
Millions face glacier catastrophe
Global warming hits Himalayas
Sunday November 20, 2005
Robin McKie, science editor
The Observer
Nawa Jigtar was working in the village of Ghat, in Nepal, when the sound of crashing sent him rushing out of his home.  He emerged to see his herd of cattle being swept away by a wall of water.
Jigtar and his fellow villagers were able to scramble to safety.  They were lucky: 'If it had come at night, none of us would have survived.'
Ghat was destroyed when a lake, high in the Himalayas, burst its banks.  Swollen with glacier meltwaters, its walls of rock and ice had suddenly disintegrated.  Several million cubic metres of water crashed down the mountain.
When Ghat was destroyed, in 1985, such incidents were rare — but not any more.  Last week, scientists revealed that there has been a tenfold jump in such catastrophes in the past two decades, the result of global warming.
Himalayan glacier lakes are filling up with more and more melted ice and 24 of them are now poised to burst their banks in Bhutan, with a similar number at risk in Nepal.
But that is just the beginning, a report in Nature said last week.
Future disasters around the Himalayas will include 'floods, droughts, land erosion, biodiversity loss and changes in rainfall and the monsoon'.
The roof of the world is changing, as can be seen by Nepal's Khumbu glacier, where Hillary and Tenzing began their 1953 Everest expedition.
It has retreated three miles since their ascent.
Almost 95 per cent of Himalayan glaciers are also shrinking — and that kind of ice loss has profound implications, not just for Nepal and Bhutan, but for surrounding nations, including China, India and Pakistan.
Eventually, the Himalayan glaciers will shrink so much their meltwaters will dry up, say scientists.
Catastrophes like Ghat will die out.
At the same time, rivers fed by these melted glaciers — such as the Indus, Yellow River and Mekong — will turn to trickles.  Drinking and irrigation water will disappear.  Hundreds of millions of people will be affected.
'There is a short-term danger of too much water coming out the Himalayas and a greater long-term danger of there not being enough,' said Dr Phil Porter, of the University of Hertfordshire.  'Either way, it is easy to pinpoint the cause: global warming.'
According to Nature, temperatures in the region have increased by more than 1C recently and are set to rise by a further 1.2C by 2050, and by 3C by the end of the century.  This heating has already caused 24 of Bhutan's glacial lakes to reach 'potentially dangerous' status, according to government officials.  Nepal is similarly affected.
'A glacier lake catastrophe happened once in a decade 50 years ago,' said UK geologist John Reynolds, whose company advises Nepal.  'Five years ago, they were happening every three years.  By 2010, a glacial lake catastrophe will happen every year.'
An example of the impact is provided by Luggye Tsho, in Bhutan, which burst its banks in 1994, sweeping 10 million cubic metres of water down the mountain.  It struck Panukha, 50 miles away, killing 21 people.
Now a nearby lake, below the Thorthormi glacier, is in imminent danger of bursting.  That could release 50 million cubic metres of water, a flood reaching to northern India 150 miles downstream.
'Mountains were once considered indomitable, unchanging and impregnable,' said Klaus Tipfer, of the United Nations Environment Programme.  'We are learning they are as vulnerable to environmental threats as oceans, grasslands and forest.'
Not only villages are under threat: Nepal has built an array of hydro-electric plants and is now selling electricity to India and other countries. 
But these could be destroyed in coming years, warned Reynolds.
'A similar lake burst near Machu Picchu in Peru recently destroyed an entire hydro-electric plant.  The same thing is waiting to happen in Nepal.'
Even worse, when Nepal's glaciers melt, there could be no water to drive the plants.  'The region faces losing its most dependable source of fresh water,' said Mike Hambrey, of the University of Wales.
A Greenpeace report last month suggested that the region is already experiencing serious loss of vegetation.  In the long term, starvation is a real threat.
'The man in the street in Britain still isn't sure about the dangers posed by global warming,' said Porter.  'But people living in the Himalayas know about it now.  They are having to deal with its consequences every day.'
· Additional reporting: Amelia Gentleman and Felix Lowe
Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2005
Thursday, 25 August 2005
Peru's glaciers in retreat
By Hannah Hennessy
BBC News, Huaraz
The stalactites hang like glass daggers over the glacial lake.
Ice peaks rise against the bright blue sky like crystal pyramids.
Glacier in Peru
The glacial retreat at Pastoruri shows no sign of stopping
Mounds of dark rock rise up between the snow and ice, discoloured after years of being covered by the glacier.
This is Pastoruri. In the past 10 years, its ice caps have retreated by about 200m.
Soon it, like many other glaciers in Peru, will have disappeared almost completely.
At about 5,000m, or just over 16,000ft, it is one of the glaciers worst affected by climate change in Peru.
And Peru, in turn, is one of the countries worst affected by climate change in the world.
Sitting between the tropics, where the sun is particularly fierce, and home to more tropical glaciers than anywhere else, this South American country is especially vulnerable to rising temperatures.
Experts predict all the Peruvian glaciers below 5,500m will disappear by 2015.   This is the majority of Peru's glaciers.
Marco Zapata works at the Institute for National Resources in the Andean town of Huaraz, in northern Peru.   He has studied glaciers for more than 30 years and says in that time Peru has lost more than 20% of its glaciers.
One of the main reasons why Peru is so vulnerable to climate change has to do with water.
Water needs
The majority of its population lives in a narrow strip of land between the Andes mountains and the sea.
Peruvian farmers
Local farmers depend on the glacial water to irrigate their crops
This area is mainly desert and the people who live here receive their water from the mountains.   Melting glaciers also provide water for hydroelectricity, industry and farming.
Pressure on water resources is only likely to grow as more and more people move to coastal cities like the capital Lima and industry expands.   But the source of that water is also under pressure.
Standing at the Puerto Chuelo mountain pass above the glacier lakes at Llanganuco, Mr Zapata said:
"At the moment, we are experiencing a very strong process of glacial retreat.
There is an apparent abundance of water in these mountains.
In the rainy season there are no problems, but in the dry season the glaciers are the only ecosystem that is supporting the river.
And this problem of the process of glacial retreat is so fast, that in a very short time, it's possible the glaciers will disappear and there will be a problem of a lack of water for future generations."
Snow caps
Emilio Himenez has farmed land in the shadow of the Llanganuco lakes for almost four decades.   He irrigates his land with water from the glaciers that supply the lakes and grows a variety of fruit and vegetables which he sells at market.
Peruvian farmers in glacial region
Emilio Himenez and his family have farmed the land for almost 40 years
"I can see the snow caps aren't like they were before," says Mr Himenez.
As he works in the fields with his wife and daughters, one of his grandchildren, four-year-old Frank Michael looks on.
"Perhaps in 20 more years, there won't be water if the snow caps go," Mr Himenez adds.
"It will be very sad because when there is water there is life and when there is no water, there is no life, not for the animals, or the humans, or for the agriculture.   And, I don't know what situation our grandchildren will be in."
 
Tubes holding filters and high-tech membranes remove salt from ocean water
BBC — Tuesday, 27 April, 2004
Patagonian ice in rapid retreat
By Jonathan Amos
BBC News Online science staff
San Rafael Glacier, Photo: University of Wales, Aberystwyth
The dense, blue ice of the San Rafael Glacier
One of South America's leading natural tourist destinations, the San Rafael Glacier in Chile, is retreating at an alarming rate, say UK scientists.
Located in a World Heritage Site, the glacier draws thousands of visitors each year to marvel at the way icebergs calve into the sea from its front wall.
But Dr Neil Glasser and colleagues say rapid melting is now under way because of historically high air temperatures.
They warn that if the glacier withdraws on to the land, tourism will suffer.
This glacier was relatively stable for 3,000-5,000 years and then suddenly, in the last 100 years, it came back
Dr Neil Glasser
"This glacier is not only in a World Heritage Site, it is also in a Unesco biosphere reserve and huge national park," Dr Glasser, from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, told BBC News Online.
"If the glacier retreats further up valley, it will cease to calve icebergs into the Laguna San Rafael, and one of the reasons why this area attracts so many tourists will be largely gone."
Temperature records
The San Rafael Glacier is part of the Northern Patagonian Icefield.
It is one of the fastest-moving glaciers in the world, flowing at 17m a day.
Falling from an altitude near to 3,000m right down to sea level, it is driven on by gravity and the mass of prodigious quantities of snowfall high up in the Andes.
San Rafael Glacier, Photo: University of Wales, Aberystwyth
Now, Glasser and Aberystwyth colleague Dr Krister Jansson, together with Dr Stephan Harrison from Oxford University, have been able to show that the glacier's front wall stands 1km further back in the water compared with the early 1990s.
Calving activity off the 70m-high vertical ice cliff has been dramatically reduced, too.
"We first went there 13 years ago.
"People put paint marks on the rock wall where the glacier was then; they even built a lookout post directly over the front of the glacier in 92," Dr Glasser said.
"This year, the glacier is nowhere near this point — it's about a kilometre back from where it was.
"We've looked at the precipitation records closest to this area and they show no obvious change over the last 100 years, but they do have a rise in temperature recorded."
Mirrored recession
Scientists concede their historical data on the extent of glaciers — across much of the world, not just in South America — is patchy.
However, they argue a consistent pattern of recession is beginning to emerge with many ice bodies from the Arctic to the tropics.
San Rafael Glacier, Photo: University of Wales, Aberystwyth
Tourists visit the site to see icebergs break off
At San Rafael, the glacier's position was recorded once in the late 1800s as being more than 10km further out into the sea than it is now.
And moraine, the sediments dumped by the glacier, about 12km from the present ice front are currently being dated by the UK team — but are expected to be 3,000-5,000 years old.
"So it seems this glacier was relatively stable for 3,000-5,000 years and then suddenly, in the last 100 years, it came back.
Dr Harrison added: "In recent years, the glaciers of the Northern Patagonian Icecap have been melting rapidly as a result of global warming, and the San Rafael Glacier has mirrored this retreat.
"The Patagonian icefields are losing ice more rapidly than any other comparable ice masses on Earth and we must see this as the inevitable consequence of global climate change."
Last year, US researchers working in the Patagonian icefields reported similar concerns.
The Nasa-led study, published in the journal Science, looked at ice loss in 63 areas, comparing data from three decades.
San Rafael Glacier, Photo: University of Wales, Aberystwyth
Jansson and Glasser have been going to the laguna for over a decade
The researchers found ice was lost at a rate sufficient to push up ocean waters by 0.04mm per year during the period from 1975 through to 2000.
BBC — Friday, 17 October, 2003
South American glaciers' big melt
Glacier, Marcelo Arevalo/Nasa
A dramatic image looking down the Calvo Glacier in Chile
The Patagonia glaciers of Chile and Argentina are melting so fast they are making a significant contribution to sea-level rise, say scientists.
They report ice was lost at a rate sufficient to push up ocean waters by 0.04 millimetres per year during the period from 1975 through to 2000.
This is equal, the researchers say, to 9% of the total annual global sea-level rise from all mountain glaciers.
The American research team reports its findings in the journal Science.
Rising temperatures
The team combined data from a space shuttle mission in 2000 and survey data gathered on the ground to study the 63 largest Patagonia ice fields.
They compared ice loss rates between 1968 and 1975, and from 1975 to 2000.   As well as the general increase in melting, the team also found accelerated ice-mass loss between 1995 and 2000.
This period saw melting sufficient to push up sea-levels by 0.1 millimetres per year.
In comparison, the team says, Alaska's glaciers, which cover an area five times larger, account for about 30% of the total annual global sea-level rise from mountain glaciers.
The researchers, led by Eric Rignot, from the US space agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, believe climate change has led to the region experiencing a rise in air temperatures and decreased precipitation.
Glacier, Andres Rivera/Nasa
Lucia Glacier: Like many others its leading edge calves into a lake
Going backwards
Still, those factors alone are not sufficient to explain the rapid thinning.
The rest of the story appears to lie primarily in the unique dynamic response of the region's glaciers to climate change, the researchers believe.
"The Patagonia ice fields are dominated by so-called 'calving' glaciers," Rignot said.
"Such glaciers spawn icebergs into the ocean or lakes and have different dynamics from glaciers that end on land and melt at their front ends.
"Calving glaciers are more sensitive to climate change once pushed out of equilibrium, and make this region the fastest area of glacial retreat on Earth," he said.
Thursday, 9 October, 2003
Melting glaciers threaten Peru
Thousands of people in the Andes mountains of Peru are having their lives affected in both a practical and cultural way by climate change, which is causing the region's glaciers to melt.
Glaciers in the Andes
The Andes glaciers are disappearing fast
This is already having a major impact of some aspects of life for the people who live in the mountains — and the government of the country is worried that the situation could get much worse.
In the last three decades, Peruvian glaciers have lost almost a quarter of their area.
"This is an indicator which gave us some concern on how the future was going to be on these tropical glaciers," Patricia Iturregui, head of the Climate Change Unit of Peru's National Council for the Environment, told BBC World Service's One Planet programme.
"All our estimations on the basis of this data are that in the next 10 years the top tropical glaciers of Peru — and eventually other Andean countries — above 5,500 metres will disappear if climate conditions remain as the last 10 years."
Nasa fears
The most immediate threat is coming from the change to water supplies in the area.
During the dry season, river water comes exclusively from the glaciers, which melt naturally at that time of year.  They then replenish themselves in the wet season.
But this balance has been upset — the glaciers are melting faster than they can replenish themselves.
Satellite image showing affected area
Nasa says its satellites have detected a crack in the glacier near Lake Palcacocha
As they thaw, dozens of new lakes have spread all over the highland.
A recent report by US space agency Nasa suggested that a large chunk of ice in the area could break off and fall into one of these lakes, triggering a devastating flood.
Satellites had detected a crack in the glacier overlooking Lake Palcacocha.
One city under threat would be Huaraz, with a population of 100,000.   The news from Nasa came as a very worrying shock to many in the city.
"We were all very worried in my family — we packed suitcases with clothes and blankets," Joana, one of the citizens of Huaraz, told One Planet.
"We warned our relatives to be prepared."
Risk assessment
Some scientists dispute Nasa's claims. Mario Giva, of the Peruvian National Institute for Natural Resources, said that it was "necessary for some work in the field to determine whether there is sufficient evidence of any imminent danger".
Nevertheless, Nasa is currently in conversation with the Peruvian Government over these findings, which is drawing up plans to respond to the risks posed by the melting glaciers.
"We need to make an important effort to plan disaster management and prevention of risks in the future," Ms Iturregui said.
"The most important measures to be taken are to organise local communities and to organise an institutional framework able to respond to these adverse effects."
She added that an assessment of water resources available in the future was currently under way.
"We are in the process of desertification," stressed Ms Iturregui.
"The retreat of the glaciers is definitely going to mean a shortfall in the water supply in years to come."
Tourism threat
Some in Huarez itself recall when, in 1941, a chunk of ice did melt off — and destroyed around a third of the city, killing between 5,000 and 7,000 people.
Canal water block
The melting water is putting some of Peru's irrigation system under strain
But the melting glaciers are also causing other problems.
The deluge is proving too much for some of the canals — some of which are many years old — that supply the farms and mills in the central region.
Conversely, the fact that the glaciers are not replenishing themselves is also a potential threat to life in the region, as in the dry season they are the sole source of fresh water.
And there are further impacts on the lives of people in the mountains.
"Now, glaciers are sliding over the bedrock," said glacier expert Cecil Portocarrero.
"This is causing problems — not only for water resources but also for tourism, for climbers."
'Healing water' banned
Meanwhile some ancient spiritual traditions are also under threat.
Every year thousands of people from across the Andes flock to the Sinakara glacial mountain to attend the Qoyllur Rit'i religious festival.
Catholic tradition believes that the Christ child appeared in 1870 to a shepherd boy named Marianito Mayta. Ever since, pilgrims have believed that Christ lives in the rock.
Village in Peru
Villages in Peru have only the glaciers for fresh water
And for the Incas — and other civilisations that preceded them — mountains were gods to be honoured, as they supplied water and controlled the weather.
Many people come down from the glacier with pieces of ice, as they believe the ice can cure them of illness.
"They think it acts like a medicine — like a sacred water," explained mountain guide Feri Coba.
"Perhaps at home someone is not feeling well. They will drink it and they will be cured."
Ritual ending
This year, because of concerns about melting, the Pablitos — the guardians of the Qoyllur Rit'i ceremony — have stopped the ice being taken away.
"We decided to eliminate this part of a ritual because we are concerned about the glacier," explained one Pablito. "We have taken this decision to protect the ice."
The decision has upset many pilgrims.
"The glaciers were bigger — when I first came here this particular one reached around 200 metres down," one said.
"In a few years' time we might not have any ice. I don't know where the Andean people will be able to go for their rituals."
10 December, 2002
By Andrew Enever
BBC News Online, on the Cordillera Real mountain range, Bolivia
Enever, BBC
Huayna Potosi: The cities below depend on the meltwaters
Bolivian glaciers shrinking fast
Glaciers in the Bolivian Andes are shrinking at an alarming rate, say scientists.
Data collected from tropical ice fields near the world's highest capital, La Paz, show mass loss in the 1990s at rates 10 times greater than previous decades.
If rising temperatures and low precipitation continue, many smaller glaciers will vanish in a decade, the researchers believe.
The bare rock around the glacier works as an oven, speeding the melting

Dr Robert Gallaire
Further ahead, the consequence could be water and power shortages for millions of Bolivians.
Dangerous work
Alvaro Soruco led the way across the Zongo glacier, cautiously poking the ground before him in search of deadly fissures that plummet deep into the dark heart of this slowly moving mass of ice.
To our right, the glacier climbed near vertically to the towering peak of Huayna Potosi (6,050 metres/19,850 feet).
Lines could be made out on the ice wall — fractures, Alvaro informed me, which one day would be the starting point of an avalanche.
All around us on the snow were small insects, blown up in a cloud from their tropical Amazon home and dropped on to this white carpet to take their last confused steps. And echoing up from far below came the distant gurgle of running water.
Data collection
Enever, BBC
The data are collected weekly
Crossing this glacier is a weekly event for Alvaro, a 22-year-old student working with the French Institut de Recherche pour le Developpement (IRD).
From a measuring station located 5,200 m above sea level, he records data showing precipitation, wind speed, air temperature and other variables that help the team from the IRD map the changing form of the glacier.
For a decade now, in fair and foul weather, the team has been collecting data on this and two other glaciers in the Cordillera Real mountain range, which curves around La Paz and off north towards Peru.
The results have been alarming.
Losing mass
The Zongo glacier has retreated by around 10 metres and lost about one metre of depth every year.
The nearby Chalcaltaya glacier, known as the world's highest ski-field, has lost over 40% of its thickness and surface area.
The key factor accelerating mass loss on these glaciers is increasingly frequent El Nino events in this part of the world, a climate phenomenon that may or may not be being pumped up by global warming.
"This is a problem for the glaciers because it means lower precipitation and higher temperatures," explained Dr Robert Gallaire, head of the La Paz IRD unit.
Glaciers are shrinking all over the planet.   But tropical glaciers, most of which are in the Andes, are losing ground fastest.
Tropical glaciers
Furtwangler ice wall, Thompson
Furtwangler ice wall: Worldwide, tropical glaciers are on the retreat
These low-latitude high-altitude glaciers are particularly sensitive to changes in climate because their season of accumulation is summer, when radiation levels are at their peak.
In Europe or elsewhere, glaciers accumulate during the cold season, allowing some recovery.
In the Andes, the run-off goes on all year, leaving smaller glaciers, like Chacaltaya, exposed.
"Chacaltaya no longer has enough inertia," said Dr Gallaire.   "The bare rock around the glacier works as an oven, speeding the melting.   Even in 2000/1 when we had a strong La Nina year with a lot of snowfall, it continued to lose mass."
Important water source
Run-off from glaciers in the Cordillera Real contributes to reservoirs that supply 1.5 million people in La Paz and the neighboring city El Alto.   It also feeds a series of hydroelectric plants that satisfy the two cities' energy needs.
If current warming trends continue, Dr Gallaire fears that within 50 years the loss of glaciers will impact heavily on these water supplies.
Robert Bianchi, general manager at the La Paz water company, Aguas del Illimani, is not so worried.
<
Enever, BBC
Treading carefully: Glacier research is not without its dangers
He insists that despite the contribution of glacier waters, it is rainfall that meets the majority of water needs.   Bianchi also doubts the credibility of long-term water demand and supply estimates.
"To project the problem of water for La Paz and El Alto in 50 years is the work of an artist," he says.   "If it is a problem that will affect the next generation it will be a problem for the next concessionaire who takes over in 2027."
Oscar Paz, who heads up Bolivia's climate change office, hopes the world's most powerful nations will not leave their response to a changing climate to the next generation of politicians.
"The most vulnerable countries like Bolivia, who don't have resources to face these problems, are those that will feel the impact of climate change most strongly," he said.
"We need developed nations to act now to control carbon emissions, but also to support us financially as we try to adapt."
SEE ALSO:
Satellite watches disaster hazard
17 Apr 03 | Science/Nature
Peruvian farmers learn from history
22 May 03 | Science/Nature
Sea level rises 'underestimated'
17 Feb 02 | Boston 2002


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Dec. 22, 2003
Black Soot and Snow: A Warmer Combination

(See also related Science Brief: As Pure as Snow)

New research from NASA scientists suggests emissions of black soot alter the way sunlight reflects off snow.
According to a computer simulation, black soot may be responsible for 25 percent of observed global warming over the past century.
still from animation showing clean ice
still from animation showing the ice covered with soot
Click on either image to view animation
Item 1 -
This is a conceptual animation showing how polar ice reflects light from the sun.
As this ice begins to melt, less sunlight gets reflected into space.
It is instead absorbed into the oceans and land, raising the overall temperature, and fueling further melting.
Darker, soot-covered ice reflects less light as well, part of the warming effect.
Credit: NASA
High resolution of top image — no soot
46.4mb — long download — for printing
High resolution of bottom image — with soot
46.4mb — long download — for printing
Soot in the higher latitudes of the Earth, where ice is more common, absorbs more of the sun's energy and warmth than an icy, white background.
Dark-colored black carbon, or soot, absorbs sunlight, while lighter colored ice reflects sunlight.
Soot in areas with snow and ice may play an important role in climate change.
Also, if snow- and ice-covered areas begin melting, the warming effect increases, as the soot becomes more concentrated on the snow surface.
"This provides a positive feedback (i.e. warming); as glaciers and ice sheets melt, they tend to get even dirtier," said Dr. James Hansen, a researcher at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York.
This is a conceptual animation showing how polar ice reflects light from the sun.
Click on image to view animation
Item 2 — This is a conceptual animation showing how melting ice on land and at sea, can affect the surrounding ocean water, changing both the chemistry and relative sea level.
Credit: NASA
Hansen and Larissa Nazarenko, both of the Goddard Institute and Columbia University's Earth Institute, found soot's effect on snow albedo (solar energy reflected back to space), which has been neglected in previous studies, may be contributing to trends toward early springs in the Northern Hemisphere, thinning Arctic sea ice, melting glaciers and permafrost.
Soot also is believed to play a role in changes in the atmosphere above the oceans and land.
"Black carbon reduces the amount of energy reflected by snow back into space, thus heating the snow surface more than if there were no black carbon," Hansen said.
Soot's increased absorption of solar energy is especially effective in warming the world's climate.
"This forcing is unusually effective, causing twice as much global warming as a carbon-dioxide forcing of the same magnitude," Hansen noted.
Hansen cautioned, although the role of soot in altering global climate is substantial, it does not alter the fact greenhouse gases are the primary cause of climate warming during the past century.
Such gases are expected to be the largest climate forcing for the rest of this century.
  
Mt. Kilimanjaro in 1993
Item 4 — Feb. 17, 1993
Item 5 — Feb. 21, 2000
Click on image to view animation
Item 6 — Animation of the shrinking snow
Soot also affects melting of alpine glaciers.
Some scientists believe the snow cap of Mount Kilimanjaro will be gone in two decades.
Researchers say the ice fields on Africa's highest mountain shrank by 80 percent in the past century.
The snow cap formed some 11,000 years ago.
The Landsat satellite captured these images of Kilimanjaro February 17, 1993 and February 21, 2000.
Credit: NASA/USGS
The researchers found that observed warming in the Northern Hemisphere was large in the winter and spring at middle and high latitudes.
These observations were consistent with the researchers' climate model simulations, which showed some of the largest warming effects occurred when there was heavy snow cover and sufficient sunlight.
Hansen and Nazarenko used a leading worldwide-climate computer model to simulate effects of greenhouse gases and other factors on world climate.
The model incorporated data from NASA spacecraft that monitor the Earth's surface, vegetation, oceans and atmospheric qualities.
The calculated global warming from soot in snow and ice, by itself in an 1880-2000 simulation, accounted for 25 percent of observed global warming.   NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites are observing snow cover and reflectivity at multiple wavelengths, which allows quantitative monitoring of changing snow cover and effects of soot on snow.
particle of black soot under the microscope
Item 7
SOOT PARTICLE UNDER A MICROSCOPE
Credit: D.M. Smith, University of Denver
The research is in the paper "Soot Climate Forcing via Snow and Ice Albedos," appearing online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
This research was funded by NASA's Earth Science Enterprise.
The Enterprise is dedicated to understanding the Earth as an integrated system and applying Earth system science to improve prediction of climate, weather and natural hazards using the unique vantage point of space.
snowflake under a microscope
Item 8
Click on image for larger size
SNOWFLAKE UNDER THE MICROSCOPE
This is a hexagonal plate shape with dendritic extensions.
Credit: USDA Beltsville Agricultural Research Center in the Electron Microscopy Unit, Bld. 177-B, Beltsville Maryland 20705
pseudo color snow crystals
Item 9
Click on image for larger size
PSEUDO COLOR SNOW CRYSTALS
Credit: USDA Beltsville Agricultural Research Center in the Electron Microscopy Unit, Bld. 177-B, Beltsville Maryland 20705

This text was derived from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Black Soot.

Related Research Stories

NASA Finds Soot has Impact on Global Climate (May 13, 2003)

Black Carbon Contributes to Droughts and Floods in China(Sep. 26, 2002)

Reference

Hansen, J., and L. Nazarenko 2003.Soot climate forcing via snow and ice albedos.Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 100,doi:10.1073/pnas.2237157100, in press.

Version of this page with possible update is available from NASA click here



July 19, 2004
Study says pollution may add to drought
By Molly Ball
LAS VEGAS SUN
Air pollution from coal-burning power plants may be worsening the region's current drought, according to research by scientists with Nevada's Desert Research Institute.
Pollutants in the air, traceable to coal plants in Western states, are reducing the water content of Rocky Mountain snowfall, possibly by as much as 25 percent, said one of the scientists, Randy Borys, director of the institute's Storm Peak Laboratory in Steamboat Springs, Colo.
"We have documented cases where half of the water was not snowing out of clouds because of air pollution," Borys said last week.
Borys' research, which he has been pursuing for about six years, was published most recently in the May 2003 issue of the journal Geophysical Research Letters.  Those results documented individual clouds whose snowfall was reduced by as much as 50 percent.
Now Borys, whose lab is on a mountaintop, is testing the overall reduction in water in the total snowpack, which he believes could be as high as 25 percent.
That snowpack is the source of most of Nevada's water supply — 85 to 90 percent, said Ken Albright, director of resources for the Southern Nevada Water Authority.  Snowfall in the Rockies melts and flows southwest via the Colorado River.
If Borys' research is correct, Albright said, "It's going to have huge implications for the region.  This could dramatically change the way the West deals with water supply."
In the last five years, flow into the region's water system has averaged only 50 percent of normal levels, Albright noted.
Albright said he had not previously heard of Borys' findings, but if they were correct, "We'd still be in the midst of a drought, but it wouldn't be nearly as severe."
"If this is true, it poses new questions for water managers throughout the region on the global relationship between industry and human interaction with the environment," Albright added.  "This is huge."
Borys pointed out that even if the West were facing an overabundance of water in the Colorado River, air pollutants would still be acting on clouds to prevent snow from falling.  The water reduction he documents is not a cause of the drought, he said, since climate phenomena such as droughts are produced by big-picture changes in the overall atmospheric system.
"But if there is a drought, this is going to exacerbate it," he said.
The Desert Research Institute, which is part of the University and Community College System of Nevada, acquired the Colorado laboratory because the weather phenomena observable there have important consequences for Nevada, institute spokesman Ron Kalb said.
"There are some instances where you have to take the scientist to the environment, because you can't take the environment to the scientist," Kalb said.
The lab was rebuilt in 1995 for about $218,000, Kalb said.  That money came from the institute's grants and contracts, not the state of Nevada, he noted.
Borys' findings center on the way clouds form and the causes of rain and snow.  Like the oyster that seizes on a grain of sand to form a pearl, water droplets in storm clouds form around tiny airborne particles.  The particles can be natural, such as sea salt or dust, or manmade.
Borys found that some clouds had so many of the particles that too many tiny drops formed.  The same amount of water was split up into many small droplets instead of a few larger ones.  The problem is, droplets must reach a certain size to be heavy enough to fall out of the cloud as precipitation.
"On occasion, half of the snow that might fall is not falling" because it's tied up in droplets too tiny to drop, Borys said.  The droplets probably evaporate instead, never reaching the mountain snowpack, he said.
The particles involved, Borys found, were mainly sulfates and nitrates, which typically enter the atmosphere due to coal-burning power plants.  He used weather patterns to trace the particles to electric plants in Western states.
Despite the proven negative effects of pollution from burning coal, "the interior West is experiencing a resurgence in proposed new coal-fired power plants unlike any we have witnessed in a generation," said Vickie Patton, a Colorado-based representative for the nonprofit Environmental Defense.
According to Energy Argus, a commercial service that tracks energy projects, new coal plants are being proposed in Nevada, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Arizona and New Mexico.  One-third of the electricity generated by those proposed plants would be in Nevada.
If even a few of those plants are built, Patton said, "the Western airshed would experience a significant rise in the two pollutants that are singled out in the DRI study, not to mention a staggering and unmitigated addition of greenhouse gases."
For several years, environmental scientists have believed in theory that pollutants affected precipitation, but Borys' research provides proof, said Jana Milford, a University of Colorado professor and Environmental Defense senior scientist.
"It's extremely valuable to have this empirical, observational evidence of the effects of pollution on climate," Milford said.
"Mountain snowfall is so critical to this region," she added.  "This study needs to be taken seriously" as a cause for concern to policymakers and the public."
More than half of the power generated in the U.S. comes from coal; proponents say new technologies have made coal power cleaner, and it remains cheaper than nuclear, natural gas or alternative energy sources.
The energy industry says that the effects on air quality and human health of the atmospheric particles produced by coal burning have been overstated.
Representatives of the Edison Electric Institute, a trade group, and the industry-sponsored nonprofit Electric Power Research Institute declined to comment on the implications of Borys' research because they were not familiar with it.
To Borys, the meaning is clear.  "I'm hoping some of our work demonstrates that pollutants have another reason to concern us," he said.
"Air pollution knows no boundaries," he added, citing oil fires in Kuwait and dust storms in Mongolia that produced effects literally across the globe.  "We're all in the same soup, so to speak.  Everyone needs to take responsibility to make sure we do our part to maintain our environment."


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Monday, 14 March, 2005
Himalayan glaciers 'melting fast'
Mt Everest

The world's highest mountains hide vast glaciers
The world's highest mountains hide vast glaciers
Melting glaciers in the Himalayas could lead to water shortages for hundreds of millions of people, the conservation group WWF has warned.
In a report, the WWF says India, China and Nepal could experience floods followed by droughts in coming decades.
The Himalayas contain the largest store of water outside the polar ice caps, and feed seven great Asian rivers.
The group says immediate action against climate change could slow the rate of melting, which is increasing annually.
"The rapid melting of Himalayan glaciers will first increase the volume of water in rivers, causing widespread flooding," said Jennifer Morgan, director of the WWF's Global Climate Change Programme.
"But in a few decades this situation will change and the water level in rivers will decline, meaning massive eco and environmental problems for people in western China, Nepal and northern India."
'Catastrophe'
The glaciers, which regulate the water supply to the Ganges, Indus, Brahmaputra, Mekong, Thanlwin, Yangtze and Yellow rivers, are believed to be retreating at a rate of about 10-15m (33-49ft) each year.
The world faces an economic and development catastrophe if the rate of global warming isn't reduced
Jennifer Morgan, WWF
Hundreds of millions of people throughout China and the Indian subcontinent — most of whom live far from the Himalayas — rely on water supplied from these rivers.
Many live on flood plains highly vulnerable to raised water levels.
And vast numbers of farmers rely on regular irrigation to grow their crops successfully.
The WWF said the potential for disaster in the region should serve to focus the minds of ministers of 20 leading industrialised nations gathering in London for two meetings on climate change.
"Ministers should realise now that the world faces an economic and development catastrophe if the rate of global warming isn't reduced," Ms Morgan said.
Temperatures rising
A Chinese farmer in Qinghai province.

Farmers in rural China are dependent on regular irrigation
Farmers in rural China are dependent on regular irrigation
She added that a study commissioned for the WWF indicated that the temperature of the earth could rise by two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels in a little over 20 years.
Allowing global temperatures to rise that far would be "truly dangerous", Ms Morgan said.
Nepal, China and India are already showing signs of climate change, the WWF report says.
Nepal's annual average temperature has risen by 0.06 degrees Celsius, and three snow-fed rivers have shown signs of reduced flows.
Water level in China's Qinghai Plateau wetlands have affected lakes, rivers and swamps, while India's Gangotri glacier is receding by 23 metres each year.
BBC — Wednesday, 17 November, 2004
Climate change 'ruining' Everest
Mount Everest
Campaigners demand urgent assessment of the risks to Everest
Environmentalists are calling for Mount Everest should be put on a UN danger list because of global warming.
Melting glaciers have swollen lakes and increased the risk of catastrophic flooding in the Himalayas, they say.
The move to save the world's highest peak is part of a new campaign to force reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide.
The campaigners are arguing that countries are legally bound to protect World Heritage Sites from damage.
The group, including famous mountaineers and members of the UK-based group Friends of the Earth, will ask Unesco, the UN educational, scientific and cultural agency to put Nepal's Sagarmatha National Park on its danger list.
It will also submit petitions for the Belize barrier reef and the Huascaran National Park in Peru to be included in the list.
"Mount Everest is a powerful symbol of the natural world not just in Nepal," the director of Friends of the Earth Nepal, Prakash Sharma, was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.
Unesco must shout out loudly and say we need greenhouse gas emission cuts — legally
Peter Roderick
Climate Justice group
"If this mountain is threatened by climate change, then we know the situation is deadly serious," the director added.
The campaigners admit that their initiative is a largely symbolic act, the BBC's environment correspondent Richard Black says.
But they argue that if politics is failing to curb global warming, then other avenues — including the law — must be used, our correspondent says.
If Unesco agrees with the submissions, it can ask member states to take corrective action.
However, even if Unesco does demand emission cuts, there is nothing in its rules which would force governments to obey, our correspondent adds.
BBC — Monday, 19 February, 2001
Kilimanjaro's white peak to disappear
Kilimanjaro white peak
Kilimanjaro's white peak to disappear
The beautiful ice fields on the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in East Africa could completely melt away in the next 20 years if the Earth continues to warm at the rate many scientists now claim.
The calculation comes from Professor Lonnie Thompson, of Ohio State University, who has made an aerial survey of the famous Tanzanian peak.
He said comparisons with previous mapping showed 33% of Mt Kilimanjaro's ice had disappeared in the last two decades — 82% had gone since 1912.
Studies on other tropical peaks had revealed a similar picture, he told the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
He warned this melting could have serious repercussions for drinking water supply, crop irrigation, hydroelectric production and tourism.
Accelerating retreat
"Kilimanjaro is the number one foreign-currency earner for the Tanzanian Government.   Twenty thousand tourists go there every year because one of the attractions is to see ice at three degrees south of the equator.   But I think there is a real possibility that that ice will be gone by 2015."
Professor Thompson has spent about 20 years studying the tropical ice fields on the mountains of South America, Africa, China and Tibet.
He told the AAAS meeting that the Quelccaya ice cap in the Peruvian Andes had shrunk by 20% since 1963.   And its largest outlet glacier, known as Qori Kalis, was accelerating in its retreat — 155 metres per year in the last survey compared with just 48 metres per year in the previous study period in 1995-98.
"The glaciers are like natural dams," he said.   "They store the snow in the wet season and they melt in the dry season and bring water flow to the rivers."
Climate 'archive'
He said their loss was a blow also to science which used the compacted ice built up in the glaciers over decades and centuries to investigate past climate.
"The loss of these frozen 'archives' threatens water resources for hydroelectric power production, irrigation for crops and municipal water supplies.   Moreover, the melting of these smaller ice caps and glaciers leads to sea level rise."
Professor Thomspon's work is part of a large effort, under the auspices of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP), to understand how the global environment is changing.   According to the IGBP's executive director, Dr Will Steffan, Thompson's work adds to the growing body of evidence of a rapidly changing Earth.
"Retreating glaciers is one of many symptoms that the Earth is undergoing dramatic changes within our lifetime.   Climate change is just one piece in a much bigger puzzle."
BBC — Friday, 18 October, 2002
Kilimanjaro's ice 'archive'
The northern ice field

Cores are drilled down through the ice

Photo: Thompson
Northern ice field: Cores are drilled down through the ice
The ice fields of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania have given up remarkable new information about the African climate stretching back more than 11,000 years.
Cores drilled into the glaciers high up on the peak support earlier evidence that there were three catastrophic droughts on the continent in the intervening period.
The research, published in the journal Science, also reinforces predictions made last year that rising temperatures — if they persist — could clear the mountain's ice completely within two decades.
This could cause difficulties for local people whose economies depend in part on the melt waters coming from the mountain and who also benefit from the influx of tourists drawn to the beauty of the white-capped tropical peak.
Some time between 2015 and 2020 [the] ice will be gone — along with the archive of climate history recorded in those glaciers
Prof Lonnie Thompson
Wet and dry
Professor Lonnie Thompson, from Ohio State University, US, collected six cores from the mountain.
The ice columns were investigated for deposits trapped in the yearly snowfalls that built up the glaciers.
By checking these markers against other historical records, Thompson and colleagues were able to construct a climate "history book".
Mount Kilimanjaro

Its ice is an important climate archive for Africa

Photo: Thompson
Its ice is an important climate archive for Africa
Included in the record are radioactive markers related to the fall-out of nuclear bomb tests, which accurately date some of the ice sample; and specific types of oxygen and hydrogen atoms that can be used to infer past temperatures.   Dust layers give an idea of yearly precipitation.
The cores show much of the past 11,000 years to have been generally wetter and warmer than present, but they also show evidence for three major droughts — 8,300, 5,200 and 4,000 years ago — the last of which went on for 300 years.
Ice retreat
By using global positioning from satellites, aerial maps and an array of stakes placed on the ice fields, the researchers have been able to confirm that Kilimanjaro's white cap is retreating in extent and volume.
In February 2001, Professor Thompson said the rate of retreat could see the mountain completely ice free within 20 years.   He said the latest work had not changed that assessment.
He told the BBC: "We have a series of maps — the first made in 1912.
"Then there was about 12.1 square kilometres of ice on the mountain.
Ice spire

One of the last remnants of Mount Kilimanjaro's eastern ice field:  A six-metre spire

Photo: Thompson
One of the last remnants of Kilimanjaro's eastern ice field: A six-metre spire
"Since then, there have been five maps, the latest by us produced from aerial photographs taken on 16 February, 2000.   That showed only 2.2 sq km of ice remained on the mountain — so we've lost about 80% of the ice since 1912.
"If you look at the area on the maps in between you have a series of dots that line up.
"If you project those into the future, some time between 2015 and 2020 that ice will be gone — along with the archive of climate history recorded in those glaciers."
Global changes
But colleague Dr Douglas Hardy, from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, also US, cautioned against jumping to conclusions about global warming.
Thompson says the Furtwangler ice wall on Kilimanjaro has undergone a massive retreat in recent years "Without diagnostic evidence, a definitive link to global warming is on thin ice," he said.
"Evidence is mounting that human influences on climate are causing glaciers to retreat dramatically around the world, and especially at high elevations in the tropics.
"But Kilimanjaro's glaciers have little in common with mid-latitude Alpine glaciers, and we must accept that simple explanations are not always possible.
Furtwangler ice wall

Thompson says the Furtwangler ice wall on Mount Kilimanjaro has undergone a massive retreat in recent years.

Photo: Thompson
Thompson says the Furtwangler ice wall on Kilimanjaro has undergone a massive retreat in recent years
"Kilimanjaro is a mountain that defies expectations and shatters assumptions."
BBC — Friday, 18 March, 2005
The last snows of Kilimanjaro
By Euan McIlwraith
BBC, Tanzania
Mount Kilimanjaro

Kilimanjaro seems set to become just another mountain
Kilimanjaro seems set to become just another mountain
My first glimpse of Kilimanjaro is awesome.   As dawn breaks in the town of Moshi in the north of Tanzania, the snow-capped peak of the mountain emerges from the mist.
Six kilometres (19,500ft) above sea level, the snow and ice hurt the eyes in the African sun.
Kilimanjaro, literally the "mountain of snow", is a place where God was said to live, a provider of water for the local Chagga people and, today, the single largest source of tourist dollars in a struggling economy.
But the ice is melting and once it is gone, there is a real concern that the 20,000 tourists who come to climb the mountain each year will be gone too.   After all a mountain without snow in Africa is just another mountain.
The precise reasons why the ice fields are shrinking are complex, but deforestation and global warming are commonly blamed.
Frozen archive
Phil Ndesamburo, the MP for the area, remembers the mountain of his childhood covered in snow.   Now, in his seventies, Phil shared his concerns for the future.
"Without this mountain, we cannot live.   It provides water for the coffee and banana plantations at the base of the mountain, and without water there is no life," he said.
Kilimanjaro glacier
The crater glacier is a shadow of its former glory
We set off just after dawn.   At the gate to the Kilimanjaro National Park, the porters, guides and would-be climbers are massing for the ascent.   With the hazards of altitude sickness, more than half of them will not reach the summit.
Each porter carries a massive 20kg (45lbs).   My pack weighs in at four.   For four days, we climb steadily upwards, camping each night until we reach the ice.
Professor Lonnie Thompson, a glaciologist at Ohio State University, US, has been studying the ice cores his team took from the mountain in 2000.
They were drilled in the Northern and Southern Ice Fields and in the thin Furtwängler Glacier within the crater.
The cores are a frozen archive with 12,000 years of climatic history locked in the ice.
His research shows that over 80% of the ice cover has been lost since 1912, and given the current rate of decline, he predicts that the ice fields will be gone completely in the next 15 years.
Small withdrawals
At one o'clock in the morning, my guide wakes me for the final push to the top.   Ahead of us we have a 900m (3,000-ft) climb in the dark to reach the crater near the summit — an almost vertical cliff, and the oxygen level is down to a quarter of the level on the plain.
It is hard work and my head throbs.   In the eerie light from my head torch, we climb parallel to one of the arms of the glacier.   Five hours later we reach the crater.
It is here in the black volcanic dust that the scientists pitch their tents when they come to take measurements from the Automated Weather Station on the Northern Ice Field.
Julianna Adosi, a scientist at the Tanzanian Meteorological Agency, recently returned from her first trip up the mountain.   She likens the glacier to a bank account where small withdrawals are being made every day until there will be nothing left.
Reduced glacier
Uhuru summit
A sense of achievement at reaching the summit is tinged with sadness
As I near the summit, altitude and lack of oxygen begin to take their toll.   My head feels about to burst and mental awareness is at an all-time low.   Two hundred feet to go and I am convinced I can't make it.
The air here is too thin for helicopter rescues so the only way out is on foot or the "Kilimanjaro express", a one-wheeled stretcher which is said to be the scariest ride in the world.
I start pulling off my hat, balaclava and gloves — the early signs of hypothermia. Emanuel and a porter pull me through the snow until I finally reach Uhuru summit.
Below me the reduction in the ice is clear to see.   The glacier which once filled the crater stands out sharply against the black dust of the mountain, now a fraction of its former glory.
For me there is a great feeling of personal achievement, but it is a feeling tinged with sadness as I know that my generation will be the last to see the fabled snows of Kilimanjaro.
The melting mountains
Joe Simpson, climber and author of 'Touching The Void', reveals how climate change is destroying the world's most spectacular landscapes
Published: 05 November 2005

On 23 July 1983 Ian Whittaker and I were inching our way up the Bonatti Pillar, a legendary Alpine climb up 2,000ft of golden granite on the south-west face of Les Drus, high above Chamonix in France.
Walter Bonatti had made the first ascent of this route alone over five days in 1955.
It is a legendary mountaineering story, perhaps one of the greatest exploits in the history of Alpinism, to rank alongside the first ascents of the north faces of the Eiger, the Matterhorn and the Grandes Jorasses.
We all need heroes.   Walter Bonatti was the hero of heroes; a man way ahead of his time whose mountaineering prowess was awe-inspiring.
I repeated the routes he put up with a sense of reverence.
I have followed in the footsteps of so many of my heroes and there were times on their routes when I half expected to see them pass me by dressed in the clothes and the equipment of their time, climbing steadily with grim, hard, unsmiling expressions.
I knew that they would not notice me.
Only Bonatti has survived.   The rest are all gone, leaving the faint glow of their brilliance on the routes they pioneered.
Yet the icy world in which Bonatti played his high-risk games is changing with frightening rapidity.
The mountains are melting, and it is not only mountaineers who will suffer the effects.
The long-term outlook for the Alpine nations — and those in which the other great ranges lie — is bleak.
The Dru is an extraordinary pinnacle of rock.
It sports an icy north face (one of the six classic Alpine north faces), a 3,000ft west face of smooth vertical walls and overhangs, and the spectacular south-west Bonatti Pillar.
Few mountains have such a variety of magnificent lines on them or look so beautiful.
The Dru crusted with a winter lace-work of ice and gilded in the golden pink of Alpine glow is one of the most striking sights in the Alps.
The Bonatti Pillar itself rises in a series of steep, leaning columns seamed with fissures and bristling with overhangs.
It rears up 2,000ft towards the massive capping overhangs just below the summit.
By late afternoon we had reached the Red Walls — 300ft of blank granite split by a hairline crack that bristled with old, rusting pitons.
We were tempted to bivouac on a series of terraces at the top of the Red Walls but confidence got the better of us and we decided to try to get past the huge roofs and reach the summit in a day.
As darkness began to close around us we found ourselves in increasingly blank and forbidding territory.
The dark shadow of the roofs blackened the early night sky above and tendrils of mist began swirling up from the depths of the icy couloir glinting thousands of feet below.
I began to follow the ropes draped down the corner, clutching in the darkness at unseen holds and shouting for Ian to give me a tight rope.
After about 40 feet, the vertical corner seemed to pinch out into a smooth wall.
Groping to my left, my fingers slipped into a sharp-edged crack and, with help from Ian, I struggled up until I saw the dark shadows of his legs hanging above me.
He was sitting on a narrow ledge.
I clipped myself to a handrail rope that Ian had fixed above the ledge.
The handrail had been tied to an old ring piton and stretched across to the far end of the ledge, where he had tied it to a small flake of protruding granite.
Once ensconced inside my bivouac bag I settled myself down on the comforting solidity of the ledge.
Seconds later there was a heart-stopping downward lurch accompanied by the thunderous sound of tons of granite plunging into the abyss.
I heard a cry of alarm and pain above the roar of falling rock.
My arms were outside the bivouac bag as I fell and I flailed them blindly trying to grab something.
It must have taken only a fraction of a second but it seemed to last forever.
We bounced on the springy stretch of rope.
The handrail had held.
I swung gently on the rope with my arms pinned to my sides.
I had held the fall on my armpits and for a confused moment I desperately tried to remember whether I had clipped myself to the handrail.
In the sudden darkness, with the sounds of falling rock echoing up from the depths, I was momentarily disorientated.   Where was Ian?
I remembered that sudden yelp during the fall.   Had he gone with it?
"By 'eck!" I heard Ian's broad Lancastrian voice beside me.
I poked my head out from my bag and glanced at Ian.
His head lolled on to his shoulder and his torch reflected a sodium yellow light off the surrounding rock walls.   There was blood on his neck.
We hung side by side on the tightly stretched rope and swore.
With the help of our torches we were horrified to find that our ropes had gone.
We looked at each other and giggled nervously.
Two thousand feet up and no ropes! The handrail shifted suddenly, causing us both to squeak with fright, hearts hammering at the thought of falling again.
I turned and shone my torch on the handrail.   It looked odd.   I twisted round, grabbed the rope.
It shifted again and the peg moved.   I lowered myself gingerly back on to the rope.
"Oh God," I whispered.
"What?"
"The peg's buggered.   It's coming out."
"Christ! Where's the gear?   Let's put something in."
"It's gone.   The hardware, boots, everything.   It went with the ledge."
Ian was silent.   I looked at the flake where the handrail had been tied off.
Tiny pebbles and dust trickled from its sheared-off base.   Both attachment points could go at any moment.   If either went, we would fall into the abyss.
"I think we had better stay very, very still."
"Aye," Ian muttered.
We hung there helplessly for 12 hours until at last a helicopter came into view and we were winched to safety.
Two weeks later, while working as a plongeur in the Montenvers Hotel, I saw an even bigger rock fall on Les Drus — a fall that altered the shape of the summit and spewed helicopter-sized blocks down the north face, creating a 1,000ft high dust cloud.
So what?   After being swept 2,000 feet down the north-east face of Les Courtes in 1981 and then having my bed disappear on the Dru in 1983 I am keenly aware that mountains have always been falling down, usually, it would seem, with me attached to them.
It happens.
The Cairngorms were once Himalayan in scale.   Frost, wind and water have ground them down to their present lowly heights.
However, 20 years later it would seem that perhaps Les Drus are falling down rather faster than they should.
In 1997 more than 1,500 cubic metres of rock fell into the valley below, destroying classic alpine routes such as the Thomas Gross and the Destivelle routes as well as some pitches of the Bonatti Pillar.
This was nothing compared with the collapse on 29 June this summer, when the west face of Petit Dru suffered yet another enormous rock fall.
A fortnight earlier, two climbers on the Quartz Ledge escape route from the top of the north face had been alarmed to discover that a gaping crack had split open along the length of the ledge.
It was the first sign that the Bonatti Pillar in its entirety was soon to disappear, alongside the famous Harlin Route on the west face and large chunks of the American Direct.
The collapse occurred above the previous 1997 fall.   Fifty years of iconic climbs had disappeared without trace.
More surprisingly still, no one was killed.   Climbers have been advised to steer clear.
Such warnings are becoming ominously familiar in the Alps nowadays.
Two years ago Victor Saunders, one of Britain's leading climbers, and his companion, Craig Higgins, had reached a point halfway up the Matterhorn's Hornli ridge when their climb turned into a nightmare.
"An enormous avalanche hurtled down the mountain's east face," said Saunders.
"I have never seen so much rock falling at one time."
An almost continuous rain of boulders ricocheted past them as they cowered under an overhang.
Within an hour an even bigger rock avalanche was thundering down the north face, obliterating the classic 1931 Schmidt route that I had climbed in 1980.
This was swiftly followed by the thunder and dust cloud of yet another vast rock fall.
In one of mountaineering's biggest mass rescues, more than 70 climbers had to be hoisted from the slopes of the Matterhorn.
A ban on climbing the mountain was instigated for the first time in history as rock falls battered its broken flanks.
It seemed to the survivors that the very Alps had started falling apart.
In the summer of 2003 one of the world's most iconic climbs, the 1938 route on the Eiger's north face, became yet another victim of climate change.  
Climbers were shocked to find that there was barely any ice left on the route.
The huge second ice field, the third ice field and the White Spider had melted away and now consisted of rubble-strewn rock slopes dusted by blackened snow and pocked by forlorn patches of ancient grey ice.
The heat wave of last year, reported to have been the hottest Alpine summer in 200 years, seemed to have finished off this venerable climb.
It may be that it is only ever climbable during the winter months, when some semblance of névé ice has reformed.
A local guide, Hans Ueli, has reported enormous rock falls.
One such fall woke him at five in the morning and, upon looking out of his window, he saw that the lower half of the 6,000ft high face was obscured by an enormous cloud of dust.
Climbs the length and breadth of the Alps have suffered similar collapses.
On Fiescherwand there was no snow ice at all on the entire four-mile wide north face.
The north face of Les Droites near Chamonix, recently only climbable in the winter, now even in the coldest months presents an insurmountable 600m barrier of smooth, bare rock slabs where once there had been pristine ice fields.
Ironically, only a few days before the Bonatti Pillar disintegrated, a man regarded by some as a half-witted religious bigot announced at the G8 summit in Gleneagles that as far as he was concerned America did not regard global warming as important nor pressing.
Leastways that is how I interpreted President George Bush's words.
Scientists now believe global warming is melting the Alps.
The ice that for thousands of years had filled the deep cracks at the summit of the Dru has started to melt.
The glue holding this rock tower together is leaking away.
More seriously, the crust of permafrost that binds the whole mountain range together is beginning to melt.
The foundations of buildings, roads, mines, tunnels, cable-car stations and their supporting pylons are entirely dependent on the frozen solidity of this permafrost.
As it steadily melts, the whole infrastructure of Alpine tourism is at risk, as well as a great many lives.
All the most famous ski resorts in Europe are situated in valleys overlooked by mountains held together by permafrost.
The high altitude permafrost zones lie on steep slopes above these settlements, roads, railways and valleys.
Massive slope failures and landslides leading to blocked rivers, dammed lakes and catastrophic flooding will be especially pronounced in the Alps, which has such steep topography and high population levels.
Already climatologists have predicted the complete failure of the Scottish ski industry due to lack of snow within 20 years and the Alpine ski industry within 50 years.
Many Alpine ski resorts would already be out of business but for the snow machines.
Because the best Alpine ski fields and lift systems are above the crucial permafrost altitude of 8,202 feet, it could spell the end of the ski industry as we know it, let alone the more esoteric world of mountaineering.
When you consider that one sixth of Austria's gross domestic product comes from Alpine tourism, the effects of permafrost meltdown could be far more wide-ranging than just screwing up our winter sports holidays.
Climatologists, geologists and civil engineers from all over the world are making disturbingly similar reports.
Glaciers in Antarctica are thinning twice as fast as they were a decade ago and this may destabilise the west Antarctic ice sheet, which, if melted, contains enough ice to raise sea levels by as much as five metres.
A gigantic slab, the Larsen B ice shelf, has already fallen off its eastern side.
Ablation rates of glaciers are speeding up all over the world.
Retreating glaciers in the Peruvian Andes are adding huge amounts of melt water to already overburdened mountain lakes, greatly increasing the risk of dam collapses and alluvion avalanches.
There are passes in the Cordillera Real in Bolivia that just 20 years ago were glaciated, yet now are rocky moraine fields.
Only two weeks ago it was announced that Kilimanjaro in Tanzania would lose its year-round mantle of snow within 10 years.   One-third of Kilimanjaro's ice field has disappeared in the past 12 years.
In Iceland ice cores have shown that temperatures are at their highest since the arrival of the Vikings.
The past two years have been the hottest since records began in 1822.   At this rate of melting, all the ice will be gone in 200 years.
In the Arctic, a region of sea ice the size of France and Germany has melted away in the past 30 years and there are fears that the inflow of fresh water could possibly lead to the shutdown of the Gulf Stream, which bathes Europe in warm water.
This would plunge Britain into winters that would be the equivalent of those in northern Canada.
It wouldn't save the ski industry, not unless you like skiing in conditions of 40C below.
Boreholes sunk to monitor ice temperatures in Switzerland, Austria, the Dolomites, the German Alps, the Sierra Nevada and the Abisko mountains in Swedenn have all recorded temperature increases of between 0.5 and 1C during the past 15 years.
The ground temperature in the Alps has risen considerably over the past decade.
As air temperatures have increased, the effects below ground are being magnified fivefold.
A test borehole dug in Murtel in southern Switzerland has revealed that sub-surface soils have warmed by more than 1C since 1990.
Increasing evaporation caused by warmer summers is also triggering thicker falls of winter snow, which insulate the soil and keep it warm.
All in all it is not looking good.
Spotting the early signs of the imminent collapse of buildings and valleys may be possible.
Mountains collapsing around your ears are a dead giveaway.
Noticing that cable stations and other buildings have developed cracks should also be easy.
But by then the horse has well and truly bolted.
The abrupt disintegration of the Matterhorn, the Dru and the desertification of the north face of the Eiger may mean that some classic routes can no longer be climbed, but they are also the harbinger of far more gloomy events.
Is this global warming?   I don't know.   It might just be a normal climatic cycle.
Somehow, unlike President Bush, I don't think so.   It may not be the day after tomorrow but it certainly looks as if it is all because of the day before yesterday.
©2005 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd.  All rights reserved
To borrow an old phrase, Martin Hoffert sees the world of tomorrow today.
"We're using fossil fuels a million times faster than nature is making fossil fuels," he says.
"That's a shock to the system."
What also may be a shock are the alternative energy sources that Hoffert, a physics professor at New York University, has tapped to combat global warming.
Take, for instance, his notion of wiring the entire planet with thousands of miles of superconductor cables to transmit electricity efficiently.  
Conceivably, we could create one huge energy grid, where Beijing could buy electricity from Boise.
Then there's his plan for suspending turbines in the jet stream to harness wind power.
And don't overlook his idea for sparking nuclear fusion by extracting helium-3 from the atmospheres of Jupiter and Neptune, rendering the entire solar system a "Persian Gulf" for planet Earth.
At the moment, Hoffert is focused on space-based solar power: giant orbiting satellites containing huge photovoltaic cells that would capture sunlight and beam it to Earth to generate energy.
There is about eight times more sunlight in space than on Earth, he points out, and a solar power satellite - as opposed to planetside solar panels - would not be hindered by night or cloudy weather.
Earlier this year, Hoffert joined his son Eric (a former Bell Labs scientist) to launch a company called Versatility Energy to explore the applications of space solar technology.
Hoffert first saw unmistakable signs of global warming while studying climate change at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.
His research led him to the conclusion that the increase in levels of carbon in the environment, generated by humans and their machines, was a significant source of the warming.
"In the long run," he says, "if we burn the whole fossil-fuel reserve, we have the potential for an incredibly adverse transformation of the world's ecosystem."
Danish scientist Niels Harrit interview on Danish TV2 on nano-thermite in the WTC dust.

911 Controlled Demolition - Thermite - Nano Thermite - Iron Microspheres Confirm Unexplained Extreme Temperatures.

2,606 people lost their lives in the World Trade Center buildings on September 11, 2001.

125 people lost their lives at the Pentagon on 9/11.

246 people lost their lives on the four planes on 9/11.

Image: Danish TV2
Danish scientist Niels Harrit on nano-thermite in the WTC dust.

Niels Harrit, you and eight other researchers conclude in this article that it was nano-thermite that caused these buildings to collapse.

We have discovered distinctive red/gray chips in all the samples we have studied of the dust produced by the destruction of the World Trade Center.

One sample was collected by a Manhattan resident about ten minutes after the collapse of the second WTC Tower, two the next day, and a fourth about a week later.

The properties of these chips were analyzed using optical microscopy, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), X-ray energy dispersive spectroscopy (XEDS), and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC).

The red portion of these chips is found to be an unreacted thermitic material and highly energetic.

The carbon content of the red material indicates that an organic substance is present.

This would be expected for super-thermite formulations in order to produce high gas pressures upon ignition and thus make them explosive.

Photo: agenda911.dk
Danish scientist Niels Harrit on nano-thermite in the WTC dust
Transcript of interview with Niels Harrit on Danish TV2 News 6th April 2009.
Active Thermitic Material Discovered in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center Catastrophe
Danish TV2   International researchers have found traces of explosives among the World Trade Center rubble.
911 Controlled Demolition - Thermite - Nano Thermite - Iron Microspheres Confirm Unexplained Extreme Temperatures.

Niels Harrit interview on Danish TV2 television.

Explosives in World Trade Center - international researchers have found traces of explosives.

Image: Danish TV2
911 Controlled Demolition - Thermite - Nano Thermite - Iron Microspheres Confirm Unexplained Extreme Temperatures.

Niels Harrit interview on Danish TV2 television.

Researchers found nano-thermite explosives in the dust and rubble of the World Trade Center buildings.

Image: Danish TV2
911 Controlled Demolition - Thermite - Nano Thermite - Iron Microspheres Confirm Unexplained Extreme Temperatures.

Niels Harrit interview on Danish TV2 television.

Researchers found nano-thermite explosives in the dust and rubble of the World Trade Center buildings that cannot have come from the planes.

Image: Danish TV2
911 Controlled Demolition - Thermite - Nano Thermite - Iron Microspheres Confirm Unexplained Extreme Temperatures.

Niels Harrit interview on Danish TV2 television.

Researchers found nano-thermite explosives in the dust and rubble of the World Trade Center buildings that cannot have come from the planes.

The believe several tonnes of explosives were placed in the buildings in advance.

Image: Danish TV2
911 Controlled Demolition - Thermite - Nano Thermite - Iron Microspheres Confirm Unexplained Extreme Temperatures.

Niels Harrit interview on Danish TV2 television.

Nano-thermite contains more energy than dynamite and can be used as rocket fuel.

Researchers found nano-thermite explosives in the dust and rubble of the World Trade Center buildings that cannot have come from the planes.

The believe several tonnes of explosives were placed in the buildings in advance.

Image: Danish TV2
911 Controlled Demolition - Thermite - Nano Thermite - Iron Microspheres Confirm Unexplained Extreme Temperatures.

Niels Harrit interview on Danish TV2 television.

So you found nano-thermite in the World Trade Center buildings, why do you think it caused the collapses?

Researchers found nano-thermite explosives in the dust and rubble of the World Trade Center buildings that cannot have come from the planes.

The believe several tonnes of explosives were placed in the buildings in advance.

Image: Danish TV2
A new scientific article concludes that impacts from the two hijacked aircraft did not cause the collapses in 2001.
We turn our attention to 9/11 — the major attack in New York.
Apparently the two airplane-impacts did not cause the towers to collapse, according to a newly published scientific article.
Researchers found nano-thermite explosive in the rubble, that cannot have come from the planes.
They believe several tonnes of explosives were placed in the buildings in advance.
Niels Harrit, you and eight other researchers conclude in this article, that it was nano-thermite that caused these buildings to collapse. What is nano-thermite?
Niels Harrit   We found nano-thermite in the rubble.
We are not saying only nano-thermite was used.
Thermite itself dates back to 1893.
It is a mixture of aluminum and rust-powder, which react to create intense heat.
The reaction produces iron, heated to 2500 °C.
This can be used to do welding.   It can also be used to melt other iron.
Nanotechnology makes things smaller.   So in nano-thermite, this powder from 1893 is reduced to tiny particles, perfectly mixed.
When these react, the intense heat develops much more quickly.
Nano-thermite can be mixed with additives to give off intense heat, or serve as a very effective explosive.
It contains more energy than dynamite, and can be used as rocket fuel.
Danish TV2   I Googled nano-thermite, and not much has been written about it.   Is it a widely known scientific substance?   Or is it so new that other scientists are hardly aware of it?
Niels Harrit   It is a collective name for substances with high levels of energy.
If civilian researchers (like myself) are not familiar with it, it is probably because they do not do much work with explosives.
As for military scientists, you would have to ask them.
I do not know how familiar they are with nanotechnology.
Danish TV2   So you found this substance in the WTC, why do you think it caused the collapses?
Niels Harrit   Well, it's an explosive.   Why else would it be there?
Danish TV2   You believe the intense heat melted the building?s steel support structure, and caused the building to collapse like a house of cards?
Niels Harrit   I cannot say precisely, as this substance can serve both purposes.
It can explode and break things apart, and it can melt things.
Both effects were probably used, as I see it.
Molten metal pours out of the South Tower several minutes before the collapse.
This indicates the whole structure was being weakened in advance.
Then the regular explosives come into play.
The actual collapse sequence had to be perfectly timed, all the way down.
Danish TV2   What quantities are we talking about?
Niels Harrit   A lot.   There were only two planes, but three skyscrapers collapsed.
We know roughly how much dust was created.
The pictures show huge quantities, everything but the steel was pulverised.
And we know roughly how much unreacted thermite we have found.
911 Controlled Demolition - Thermite - Nano Thermite - Iron Microspheres Confirm Unexplained Extreme Temperatures.

Niels Harrit interview on Danish TV2 television.

Nano Thermite can explode and break things apart and it can melt things.

Explosives in World Trade Center - international researchers have found traces of explosives.

Image: Danish TV2
911 Controlled Demolition - Thermite - Nano Thermite - Iron Microspheres Confirm Unexplained Extreme Temperatures.

Niels Harrit interview on Danish TV2 television.

Both effects were probably used by the use of Nano Thermite as I see it.

Researchers found nano-thermite explosives in the dust and rubble of the World Trade Center buildings.

Image: Danish TV2
911 Controlled Demolition - Thermite - Nano Thermite - Iron Microspheres Confirm Unexplained Extreme Temperatures.

Niels Harrit interview on Danish TV2 television.

The use of nano thermite indicates the whole structure was being weakened in advance.

Researchers found nano-thermite explosives in the dust and rubble of the World Trade Center buildings that cannot have come from the planes.

Image: Danish TV2
This is the “loaded gun”, material that did not ignite for some reason.
We are talking about tonnes.   Over 10 tonnes, possibly 100 tonnes.
Danish TV2   Ten tonnes, possibly 100 tonnes, in three buildings?   And these substances are not normally found in such buildings?
Niels Harrit   No.   These materials are extremely advanced.
Danish TV2   How do you place such material in a skyscraper, on all the floors?
Niels Harrit   How you would get it in?
Danish TV2   Yes.
Niels Harrit   If I had to transport it in those quantities I would use pallets.   Get a truck and move it in on pallets.
Danish TV2   Why hasn't this been discovered earlier?
Niels Harrit   By whom?
Danish TV2   The caretakers, for example.     If you are moving 10 to 100 tonnes of nano-thermite around, and placing it on all the floors.     I am just surprised no-one noticed.
Niels Harrit   As a journalist, you should address that question to the company responsible for security at the WTC.
Danish TV2   So you are in no doubt the material was present?
Niels Harrit   You cannot fudge this kind of science.
We have found it.   Unreacted thermite.
Danish TV2   What responses has your article received around the world?
Niels Harrit   It is completely new knowledge for me.
It was only published last Friday.   So it is too early to say.
But the article may not be as groundbreaking as you think.
Hundreds of thousands of people around the world, have long known that the three buildings were demolished.
911 Controlled Demolition - Thermite - Nano Thermite - Iron Microspheres Confirm Unexplained Extreme Temperatures.

Niels Harrit interview on Danish TV2 television.

Once the nano thermite was used then the regular explosives come into play.

Explosives in World Trade Center - international researchers have found traces of explosives.

Image: Danish TV2
911 Controlled Demolition - Thermite - Nano Thermite - Iron Microspheres Confirm Unexplained Extreme Temperatures.

Niels Harrit interview on Danish TV2 television.

The actual collapse sequence had to be perfectly times, all the way down.

Researchers found nano-thermite explosives in the dust and rubble of the World Trade Center buildings.

Image: Danish TV2
911 Controlled Demolition - Thermite - Nano Thermite - Iron Microspheres Confirm Unexplained Extreme Temperatures.

Niels Harrit interview on Danish TV2 television.

And we know roughly how much unreacted thermite we have found.

Researchers found nano-thermite explosives in the dust and rubble of the World Trade Center buildings that cannot have come from the planes.

Image: Danish TV2
911 Controlled Demolition - Thermite - Nano Thermite - Iron Microspheres Confirm Unexplained Extreme Temperatures.

Niels Harrit interview on Danish TV2 television.

No.  These nano thermite materials are extremely advanced.

Researchers found nano-thermite explosives in the dust and rubble of the World Trade Center buildings that cannot have come from the planes.

The believe several tonnes of explosives were placed in the buildings in advance.

Image: Danish TV2
911 Controlled Demolition - Thermite - Nano Thermite - Iron Microspheres Confirm Unexplained Extreme Temperatures.

Niels Harrit interview on Danish TV2 television.

Nano thermite in the buildings - almost ten years have passed.

Nano-thermite contains more energy than dynamite and can be used as rocket fuel.

Researchers found nano-thermite explosives in the dust and rubble of the World Trade Center buildings that cannot have come from the planes.

The believe several tonnes of explosives were placed in the buildings in advance.

Image: Danish TV2
911 Controlled Demolition - Thermite - Nano Thermite - Iron Microspheres Confirm Unexplained Extreme Temperatures.

Niels Harrit interview on Danish TV2 television.

So you found nano-thermite in the World Trade Center buildings, why do you think it caused the collapses?

It was by chance that someone discovered nano thermite two years ago.

Researchers found nano-thermite explosives in the dust and rubble of the World Trade Center buildings that cannot have come from the planes.

The believe several tonnes of explosives were placed in the buildings in advance.

Image: Danish TV2
This has been crystal clear.
Our research is just the last nail in the coffin.
This is not the 'smoking gun', it is the 'loaded gun'.
Each day, thousands of people realise that the WTC was demolished.
That is something unstoppable.
Danish TV2   Why has no-one discovered earlier that there was nano-thermite in the buildings?   Almost ten years have passed.
Niels Harrit   You mean in the dust?
Danish TV2   Yes.
Niels Harrit   It was by chance that someone looked at the dust with a microscope.
They are tiny red chips.
The biggest are 1 mm in size, and can be seen with the naked eye.
But you need a microscope to see the vast majority.
It was by chance that someone discovered them two years ago.
Danish TV2   It has taken 18 months to prepare the scientific article you refer to.
Niels Harrit   It is a very comprehensive article based on thorough research.
Danish TV2   You have been working on this for several years, because it didn't make sense to you.
Niels Harrit   Yes, over two years actually.
It all started when I saw the collapse of Building 7, the third skyscraper.
It collapsed seven hours after the twin towers.
And there were only two airplanes.
When you see a 47-storey building, 186m tall, collapse in 6.5 seconds, and you are a scientist, you think “what?”.
I had to watch it again… and again.
I hit the button 10 times, and my jaw dropped lower and lower.
Firstly, I had never heard of that building before.
And there was no visible reason why it should collapse in that way, straight down, in 6.5 seconds.
I have had no rest since that day.
Danish TV2   Ever since 9/11 there has been speculation, and conspiracy theories.   What do you say to viewers who hear about your research and say, “we?ve heard it all before, there are lots of conspiracy theories”.   What would you say to convince them that this is different?
Niels Harrit   I think there is only one conspiracy theory worth mentioning, the one involving 19 hijackers.
I think viewers should ask themselves what evidence they have seen to support the official conspiracy theory.
If anyone has seen evidence, I would like to hear about it
No-one has been formally charged.   No-one is 'wanted'.
Our work should lead to demands for a proper criminal investigation of the 9/11 terrorist attack.
Because it never happened.   We are still waiting for it.
We hope our results will be used as technical evidence when that day comes.
Danish TV2   Niels Harrit, fascinating, thanks for coming in.
Niels Harrit   My pleasure
ITALIAN SAYS 9-11 SOLVED
It’s common knowledge, he reveals
CIA — Mossad behind terror attacks
By the Staff of American Free Press
Former Italian President Francesco Cossiga, who revealed the existence of Operation Gladio, has told Italy’s oldest and most widely read newspaper that the 9-11 terrorist attacks were run by the CIA and Mossad, and that this was common knowledge among global intelligence agencies.
In what translates awkwardly into English, Cossiga told the newspaper Corriere della Sera:
“All the [intelligence services] of America and Europe… know well that the disastrous attack has been planned and realized from the Mossad, with the aid of the Zionist world in order to put under accusation the Arabic countries and in order to induce the western powers to take part … in Iraq [and] Afghanistan.”
Cossiga was elected president of the Italian Senate in July 1983 before winning a landslide election to become president of the country in 1985, and he remained until 1992.
Cossiga’s tendency to be outspoken upset the Italian political establishment, and he was forced to resign after revealing the existence of, and his part in setting up, Operation Gladio.
This was a rogue intelligence network under NATO auspices that carried out bombings across Europe in the 1960s, 1970s and ’80s.
Gladio’s specialty was to carry out what they termed 'false flag' operations — terror attacks that were blamed on their domestic and geopolitical opposition.
In March 2001, Gladio agent Vincenzo Vinciguerra stated, in sworn testimony:
“You had to attack civilians, the people, women, children, innocent people, unknown people far removed from any political game.
The reason was quite simple: to force … the public to turn to the state to ask for greater security.”
Cossiga first expressed his doubts about 9-11 in 2001, and is quoted by 9-11 researcher Webster Tarpley saying:
“The mastermind of the attack must have been a sophisticated mind, provided with ample means not only to recruit fanatic kamikazes, but also highly specialized personnel.
I add one thing: it could not be accomplished without infiltrations in the radar and flight security personnel.”
Coming from a widely respected former head of state, Cossiga’s assertion that the 9-11 attacks were an inside job and that this is common knowledge among global intelligence agencies is illuminating.
It is one more eye-opening confirmation that has not been mentioned by America’s propaganda machine in print or on TV.
Nevertheless, because of his experience and status in the world, Cossiga cannot be discounted as a crackpot.
Free to redistribute as long as credit given to American Free Press
We have discovered distinctive red/gray chips in all the samples we have studied of the dust produced by the destruction of the World Trade Center.

One sample was collected by a Manhattan resident about ten minutes after the collapse of the second WTC Tower, two the next day, and a fourth about a week later.

The properties of these chips were analyzed using optical microscopy, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), X-ray energy dispersive spectroscopy (XEDS), and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC).

The red portion of these chips is found to be an unreacted thermitic material and highly energetic.

The carbon content of the red material indicates that an organic substance is present.

This would be expected for super-thermite formulations in order to produce high gas pressures upon ignition and thus make them explosive.

Photo: Bentham-Open.org
Active Thermitic Material Discovered in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center Catastrophe
Photo: Bentham-Open.org
Active Thermitic Material Discovered in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center Catastrophe
We have discovered distinctive red/gray chips in all the samples we have studied of the dust produced by the destruction of the World Trade Center.
One sample was collected by a Manhattan resident about ten minutes after the collapse of the second WTC Tower, two the next day, and a fourth about a week later.
The properties of these chips were analyzed using optical microscopy, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), X-ray energy dispersive spectroscopy (XEDS), and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC).
The red portion of these chips is found to be an unreacted thermitic material and highly energetic.
The carbon content of the red material indicates that an organic substance is present.
This would be expected for super-thermite formulations in order to produce high gas pressures upon ignition and thus make them explosive.
9/11
By all accounts, the unprecedented events of September 11th, 2001 changed the way our country functions, and in turn, the world.
It is therefore critical that conscientious Americans, as well as people around the globe, understand these events in detail.
Unfortunately the official reports, including The 9/11 Commission Report and the NIST WTC Report, written by those working under the direction of the Bush Administration, have been proven to be elaborate cover-ups.
Film: 9/11 Revisited
September 11th Revisited is perhaps the most riveting film ever made about the destruction of the World Trade Center.
This is a powerful documentary which features eyewitness accounts and archived news footage that was shot on September 11, 2001 but never replayed on television.
Featuring interviews with eyewitnesses & firefighters, along with expert analysis by Professor Steven E. Jones, Professor David Ray Griffin, MIT Engineer Jeffrey King, and Professor James H. Fetzer.
This film provides stunning evidence that explosives were used in the complete demolition of the WTC Twin Towers and WTC Building 7.
For Film: 9/11 Revisited
— Click Here
Film: 9/11 Press for Truth
An excellent documentary about the families of the victims of 9/11 and their fight to uncover and expose the truth about what happened that day.
For Film: 9/11 Press for Truth
— Click Here
Film: 9/11 Mysteries
90 minutes of pure demolition evidence and analysis, laced with staggering witness testimonials.
Moving from “the myth” through “the analysis” and into “the players,” careful deconstruction of the official story set right alongside clean, clear science.
The 9/11 picture is not one of politics or nationalism or loyalty, but one of strict and simple physics.   How do you get a 10-second 110-story pancake collapse?
'Oh!   You don't believe the 9-11 official version,' they say.
'You mean where they want you to accept the buildings were not blown up from below.
'Plane fuel!   Substance never burns higher then a gas stove!   That it caused the inner core steel to melt!
'Steel melting!
'Concrete vaporizing!
' 'No!   I don't believe that conspiracy theory.
'Cheney!   Bush!   Rudy Giuliani!   HA!  HA!
'Tower 7 that never had a plane hit — just came tumbling down!
'You believe that, eh!
'Ever think it had to be blown up because the plane scheduled to fly into it was off getting shot down.
'Thermite in Tower 7's walls, you see — incriminating evidence — impossible to get out without people watching!
Had to be blown up!
'Next you'll be saying Obama is not a Wall Street Illuminati banker stooge?
'Take your pick:   The partner in a comedy team who feeds lines to the other comedians.
'Him who allows himself to be used.
'Oh!   I can't really blame you,   Television it turns minds to pulp.
'Turn off the television.   It's the only way.'
'Turn off the television?'
'Get rid of it really.   I mean what else is there to do!'
'Get rid of the television?'
'Don't forget all radio garbage is propaganda, even the songs.
'Then those five minute propaganda hits they send you every hour!
'The ones they refer to as News
'Get rid of all the propaganda from your brain, the only way to do it.'
'Stop being hooked on those Hollywood movies — even those that make you think they are making you think'
'All paid performers to make your brain dead.
'You turn the brainwashing off, you'll begin to become yourself.
'It really is the only way!'
'Oh!'
Kewe — TheWE.name
 
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