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Global warming found to have eliminated nearly 6,000 Tibetan Plateau glaciers

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(, Aug13’22) – Almost 6,000 glaciers in the Tibetan Plateau have disappeared in the past 50 years as the region saw a temperature spike because of global warming, reported Aug 12, citing Sixth Tone, a state-owned English-language online magazine published by Shanghai United Media Group.

The report cited scientists as having reported that 5,956 miniature alpine glaciers had disappeared in the region out of the 34,578 they had discovered 50 years ago, while 25,901 glaciers had shrunk dramatically.

The scientists have also noted that only 1,907 glaciers had become larger while 2,721 had become smaller during that period.

Waters from the melted glaciers had flowed through the lakes surrounding the plateau, with scientists estimating that 80% of these lakes had expanded in size in the past few decades.

The continued melting of these glaciers has raised safety concerns, including natural disasters like floods and mudslides caused by heavy rainfall, snowfall or rocks, to the nearby areas.

Citing research from 1989 to 2019, the scientists have stated that the amount of glacial runoff had also increased – from 1.867 cubic kilometres to 3.137 cubic kilometres – with the TuoTuo River (Tibetan: Thogthog Chu, regarded as the source of the Yangtze River located in Qinghai Province) also seeing an increase from 0.712 cubic kilometres to 1.974 cubic kilometres.

Known as the “water tower of Asia,” the Tibetan Plateau currently contains over 48,500 glaciers, with a total area of around 51,840 square kilometers (5,184,000 hectares), the report noted.

The neighboring Qilian Mountains, located on the northeast part of the Tibetan Plateau in Qinghai Province, have also experienced alarming changes in the past decades. Citing data from the China Academy of Sciences, Reuters reported that the glaciers in the neighboring Qilian Mountains had retreated 50% faster during 1990 to 2010 than during 1956 to 1990, the report noted.


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