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Tropical and Asian glaciers hurry their demise

Calculations made in the Andes Mountains and in Asia show that melting is happening faster than initially calculated. In South America, tropical glaciers would be directly affected by climate change. While in Asia an error in the calculations would show that there is less ice than previously thought.

By José Díaz

Servindi, February 15th, 2019.- One of the most visible consequences of global warming in recent decades has been the retreat of glaciers in various parts of the world. The Andean region has been one of the most affected, especially Bolivia, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru where the so-called tropical glaciers are located, seconded by wooded areas in the lower part of the mountains.

Precisely Peru, a country that houses 70% of the planet's tropical glaciers, has suffered in the last 50 years the loss of 49% of its ice. The percentage figures are more striking in Ecuador where they have lost 55% in the last 60 years. Global warming and indiscriminate tourism in the Andes Mountains are the main causes.

According to several specialists, tropical glaciers are the best indicators of climate change because their volume is more linked to changes in climate. Thus, there is an evident relationship between the multiple “Fenómenos del Niño” that have hit South America in the last decade and the melting.

"Climate change could cause some places to rain more and others to generate extreme droughts. In Peru, we think that the glaciers are retreating because it snows less", said José Úbeda, principal investigator of the Cryoperu organization.

Asian ice at risk

But not only the Andean Mountains are causes for global concern. A recent investigation carried out by the group of studies of glaciology ETH Zurich has determined that the calculations carried out in the past on the mass of ice belonging to Asia would be smaller than what exists in the records.

This is because areas belonging to Greenland and Antarctica would have been considered as Asian ice masses. The correction to this overestimation of the Asian ice has led to the conclusion that Asia's total melting would occur earlier than estimated.

 "In light of these new calculations, we must assume that glaciers in high mountain Asia could disappear faster than we thought so far," said Italian researcher Daniel Farinotti.

According to the initial calculations, the glaciers in Asia would be reduced by half by 2070. However, these new calculations lead to the conclusion that the thaw would be hurried by 2060. Could this situation be reversed?

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