05/17/2005, 00.00
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Everest is melting, Chinese scientists warn

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Global warming is melting away Mount Everest glaciers, putting water supplies at risk.

Chinese scientists researching the world's tallest peak, which China refers to by its Tibetan name of Qomolangma, found clear evidence of increasing glacial melting.

Global warming is shrinking Everest glaciers at a particularly high rate and threatens the balance of global water resources.

Around 75 per cent of the world's fresh water is stored in glacial ice, much of it in mountain areas, allowing for heavy winter rain and snowfall to be released gradually into river networks throughout the summer or dry months.

Chinese scientists found that one Everest glacier shrank by 50 metres (165 ft) in just two years, more than twice as fast as normal, while a huge, high-altitude ice cliff seen in 2002 has apparently disappeared,

Similar melting has also been reported on Nepal's side of the mountain.

More than 40 Himalayan glacial lakes were dangerously close to bursting in 2002, endangering thousands of people, because of global warming.

Scientists say the phenomenon could drive the average global temperature up by 1.4-5.8 degrees Celsius over the next 100 years; this would cause glaciers to retreat and oceans to rise, swamping low-lying areas around the world.

The only possible solution according to most scientists is quick action by the world's governments to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

The Tokyo Protocol is one such action—it calls for industrialised countries to reduce greenhouse gases by five per cent over the 2008-2012 period. 

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