Global warming, glacial retreat, greenhouse gasses, we hear this constantly in the media, in conversation but do people actually realize what is going on. The retreat of the glaciers affects the availability of fresh water for irrigation, animals and plants depend on the ice melting, and in the long term the level of the oceans will be affected as well. The Himalayas, the southern Andes as well as Mount Kilimanjaro are showing some of the largest proportionate glacial losses. The fact that the glaciers are melting is not the concern it is exponential rate that they are melting is the problem and the question is why?
During the period between 1950 and 1980 there was a slight global cooling, but since 1980 there has been a significant global warming which has led to the glacier retreat becoming increasingly rapid. The increasingly rapid melt has some glaciers to completely disappear. 1n 1995 a number of key “outlet glaciers” of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets may raise the sea level, which potentially have a dramatic effect on coastal regions. The glacier on Mount Kilimanjaro has retreated 75% and the volume of glacial ice is now 80% less than it was a century ago. In a 14 year period one section of the glacier on the mountain receded 300 meters or 980 feet. The current data determines that the glaciers on Kilimanjaro will disappear between 2015 and 2020 (Thompson)
In Iceland, the home to the Vatnajokull, which is the largest ice cap in Europe, the Breioamerkurjokull Glacier has receded 2km or 1.2 miles between 1973 and 2004. Earlier in the 20th century, the glacier was only 250 m or 820 ft. from the ocean. However by the 2004 the glacier had retreated 3km or 1.9 miles inland. (Sveinsson)
There are a number of impacts that can occur if the glaciers continue to retreat. Areas that are dependent on run off will affect the ability to irrigate crops, recreational use will cease, many freshwater and saltwater plants and animals that are dependent on glacier-fed waters to ensure cold water habitat will become extinct. Alteration to the oceans currents due to fresh water run- off from…