New report paints worrying picture of melting glaciers

UNESCO says some of the world’s best-known glaciers will have melted by 2050. They include the Dolomites in Italy, Mount Kilimanjaro and those in Yosemite and Yellowstone parks in the United States. Alpine glaciers will also be affected. NEW

UNESCO monitors about 18,600 glaciers, or about 10% of the world’s glacier areas, at 50 of its World Heritage Sites.

He says a third of those could melt by 2050.

UNESCO-protected glaciers lose 58 billion tonnes of ice each year, equivalent to the combined annual amount of water used in France and Spain.

The report draws its projections based on satellite data and comes as world leaders prepare to meet in Egypt for next week’s COP27 climate change conference.

“As glaciers continue to retreat at an accelerating rate, glacial hazards such as flooding of glacial lakes are likely to increase and have disastrous consequences for the populations and biodiversity of entire regions downstream,” warns the UNESCO report.

Limiting global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels is the only way to save the remaining glaciers, say scientists.

Last summer, a glacier collapse in the Dolomites in Italy killed 11 people.

Collapse of the Marmolada ice. Image c/o Alpine Rescue Services.

Other mountain regions watched the situation closely as hot summer temperatures gripped the Alps.

The summer heat had a significant impact on glacier skiing, with resorts closing their runs.

Les2Alpes, France.  Image © PlanetSKI

Les2Alpes, France. Image © PlanetSKI

Here at World Heritage sites listed as having glaciers that will disappear by 2050:

  • Hyrcanian forests (Iran)
  • Durmitor National Park (Montenegro)
  • Virunga National Park (Democratic Republic of Congo)
  • Huanlong Scenic and Historical Interest Area (China)
  • Yellowstone National Park (United States of America)
  • Mount Kenya National Park/Natural Forest (Kenya)
  • Pyrenees Mont Perdu (France, Spain)
  • Rwenzori Mountains National Park (Uganda)
  • Putorana Plateau (Russia)
  • Swiss tectonic hotspot Sardona (Switzerland)
  • Nahanni National Park (Canada)
  • Lorentz National Park (Indonesia)
  • Natural System of the Wrangel Island Reserve (Russia)
  • Kilimanjaro National Park (Tanzania)
  • Yosemite National Park (United States of America)
  • The Dolomites (Italy)
  • Primeval Komi Forests (Russia)
Mont Fort Glacier, Verbier.  Image © PlanetSKI

Mont Fort Glacier, Verbier. Image © PlanetSKI

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