Loss of glaciers will hurt tourism, power supplies and more

JAKARTA  -- Glaciers around the globe have been a tourist attraction, natural climate record for scientists, and beacons for indigenous beliefs. They can be found from the southern border of Germany all the way to the highest peaks of Africa.

Loss of glaciers will hurt tourism, power supplies and more

JAKARTA  -- Glaciers around the globe have been a tourist attraction, natural climate record for scientists, and beacons for indigenous beliefs. They can be found from the southern border of Germany all the way to the highest peaks of Africa.

The melting glaciers of many glaciers is a result of climate change. This will cause the loss of many communities and countries that have depended on them for generations to produce electricity, draw tourists, and uphold old spiritual traditions.

Since the Industrial Revolution, the ice masses formed from snow compacted over millennia have been melting. This process has accelerated in recent decades.

You can see the retreat in Africa at the border of Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda, where the jagged peaks of the Rwenzori Mountains rise into the sky high above a lush green jungle. Although the peaks once had more than 40 glaciers in them, less than half were left by 2005 and the melting continues. Experts predict that the last glaciers on the mountain could disappear in 20 years.

Land-locked Uganda is facing trouble due to the disappearance of hydroelectricity. This includes power plants that depend on constant water flow from Rwenzori glaciers.

Richard Taylor, professor of hydrogeology at University College London, stated that hydroelectric power works better when there are more steady flows than peak and troughs.

Only half a kilometer (124 acres), of ice remains on five glaciers, which are located on the border of Germany and Austria. This continent is about a continent away. Experts believe that this is 88% less than what was available in 1850. The remaining glaciers will melt within 10 to 15 years.

This is bad news for regional tourism, which relies on glaciers, according to Christoph Mayer, a senior scientist at the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Munich.

Tourist agencies are allowed to advertise that you can visit the highest mountain in Germany with its glaciers. Mayer stated that you can walk on the glaciers. "People who live in these areas really depend on tourism... they will feel the impact if these glaciers disappear."

Experts estimate that Tanzania's Mt. Experts estimate that Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest mountain and one of Tanzania's most popular tourist attractions, has lost approximately 90% of its glacial Ice to melting and to sublimation. This is a process where solid ice transforms into vapor directly without first becoming liquid. In 2019, 10.7% of the country’s GDP was attributed to tourism and travel.

Rainer Prinz, a glaciologist from the University of Innsbruck, Austria, stated that there are also intangible losses for many indigenous people who live within sight of glaciers.

According to the history of the local people, the "ice in the mountains" is the seat for god. He spoke of the spiritual significance of it, referring to communities around Mt. Kilimanjaro. "Losing the glaciers there could also impact spirituality, I think."

Glaciers can have layers of ice that are tens or thousands of years old. They contain year-by–year information about past climate conditions including temperature variations and the types of vegetation. To "read" these layers, researchers use long tube-shaped ice cores taken from glaciers.

Dwi Raden Susanto, an oceanographer, was thrilled to have been part of a team that collected a core from remote glaciers during a 2010 research trip to Indonesia's Carstensz glacier. Susanto explained that scientists soon realized that the rapid decline in the ice meant they could only get records back to the 1960s after the sample was taken.

Susanto stated, "It's sad because it isn't just a loss in Indonesian or national heritage, but also the loss of global climate heritage."

Experts predict that as glaciers disappear, local ecosystems will change too. This is something being investigated at Humboldt Glacier, Venezuela. It could be gone in the next 20 years.

Experts warn that smaller glaciers are a warning sign for larger ones.

For instance, many smaller glaciers around the globe no longer provide freshwater sources for countries. However, there are still some larger glaciers, such as in Peru. According to Lauren Vargo (a research fellow at The Antarctic Research Centre in Wellington in New Zealand), these glaciers still serve as a source of water for several countries.

She said that "those communities are more dependent on glaciers to have water for their communities."

Mayer stated that increased melt will also cause rising seas and changes to weather patterns, which will have a direct impact on society globally.

He said that the disappearance of small glaciers was a sign of things to come in the future. This "should alert you to the fact that something is happening, and it is not peanuts."

Updated Date: 10 November 2021, 12:14

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