BANGKOK (Reuters) - Mountain glaciers, which act as the world's water towers, are shrinking at ever faster rates, threatening the livelihoods of millions of people and the future of countless species, a scientist said Thursday.
Around 75 percent of the world's fresh water is stored in glacial ice, much of it in mountain areas, allowing for heavy winter rain and snow-falls to be released gradually into river networks throughout summer or dry months.
"For some species and some people there are going to be big problems because mountain areas feed not just rural people but big cities, especially in Latin America," said Martin Price of the UK-based Center for Mountain Studies.
In dry countries, mountain glaciers can account for as much as 95 percent of water in river networks, while even in lowland areas of temperate countries such as Germany, around 40 percent of water comes from mountain ice-fields, Price said.
"It's a huge issue in the long run because once the glaciers go, you're down to whatever happens to fall out of the sky and come downstream," Price told Reuters on the sidelines of the IUCN World Conservation Congress in the Thai capital.
Due to factors such as global warming and air pollution, glaciers, like the polar ice caps, are getting smaller.
Studies show that Africa's highest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, may lose its ice-cap by 2020, while the Glacier National Park in the northern United States could well be looking for a new name by 2030.
As well as threatening consistent, year-round water flows, climate change in mountains is threatening the vast variety of species.
Animals and plants in mountain areas, which officially cover 25 percent of the earth's surface, are under threat from the gradually changing climate, as well as loss of habitat on lower reaches which is pushing species to ever higher altitudes.
Eventually, they will run out of places to go.
"What can you do about it? You just have to try and adapt as things go along. You have to be as flexible as possible, but a lot of species are going to go extinct. In mountain areas many already have," Price said
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Has anyone informed you that some of the glaciers in Alaska are actually getting bigger?
There's a standing joke here here Alaska about global warming. When someone says it's happening here, we all scream HURRAY and then wonder what PART of Alaska, as it's sure not where we're standing! :)
If this global warming stuff had happened sooner it could have saved a lot of species from the ice age. Oh, wait the world was once tropical, no wat it don't matter cause Ted Dansen, said by the year 2000 the oceans would all be dead, Oh wait, that was five years ago, what the heck is goin on here. I'am confused.
Hey double dot, I recently read a National Geo. Magazine from 1975. You would not believe the doom and gloom predicted by "experts" back then that never happened. We were even supposed to out of oil about 15 years ago. Bullcrap, all of it. Just remember this, no environmentalist ever kept his job by giving good news. Think about it.
I think that the media tends to get lost in the hype and the waffle put about by the long haired tree huggers. As a qualified Geologist, I can say that the studies have shown that over the last 20,000 years the global temp. and glacial levels have been up and down "like a bride's nightie". Personally, I am not concerned with the Global variations because history has shown that all global parameters vary anyway; we are on the upward heating cycle and propably in 500 years it will be bitterly cold in the northern hemishere.
Thank you so very much for putting such a qualified statement on here for this peabrain. He's been Chicken Little most of the time, but chicken sh1t the rest by not putting his (her)name on any of the posts anyway. I'm gratified that there are people "in the know" like you who can state facts even though our kneejerk media wouldn't bother to print something that wasn't "sensational". Thanks.
Now there's a real expert on the subject!
Laurie, if I'm not mistaken the last 20 years has been the longest, dryest time-frame in the Pacific Northwest in the last 500 years. An anomoly perhaps? Nobody knows for sure including yourself...
Your kind crack me up!God has taken care of the world just fine for the last 5,000 years.Do you really think he needs your help?Some people are so smart,that there stupid! The geographical and "temperatural" status of the world is not to be worried about by humans.We could do nothing anyway! Stop wasting our tax money trying to save the world,and relax a bit.God made the world,he can watch after it a lot better than any scientist.
is bliss. Jordan you have to be the most blissful person who has ever graced this site. Who took care of the world prior to the last 5000? You are right let's stop wasting our tax dollars and trying to save the world. Heck all that used motor oil I have in the garage can just get dumped in the river. God will take care of it!
The world is only 7000 years old.What I said was dont worry about things you have no control over.God looks after people,but if you jump off a cliff your still gonna die.Stop being such an idiot about this and use your head.The world is 7000 years old.You will live for probably less that one hundred years total.The world isnt really that old and you and me arent gonna be around that long anyway.We are just a blink in time.People have been saying what your saying since the year 1980................................B.C.
The world has been proven to be millions of years old. Where are you getting your info?
I meant billions.
The oldest rocks which have been found so far (on the Earth) date to about 3.8 to 3.9 billion years ago (by several radiometric dating methods). Some of these rocks are sedimentary, and include minerals which are themselves as old as 4.1 to 4.2 billion years. Rocks of this age are relatively rare, however rocks that are at least 3.5 billion years in age have been found on North America, Greenland, Australia, Africa, and Asia.
While these values do not compute an age for the Earth, they do establish a lower limit (the Earth must be at least as old as any formation on it). This lower limit is at least concordant with the independently derived figure of 4.55 billion years for the Earth's actual age.