As the world moves towards COP 27, a UNESCO report says that glaciers in heritage sites are set to disappear by 2050. However, it is still possible to save them if the rise in global temperatures does not exceed 1.5°C compared to the pre-industrial period, the UNESCO said in its latest reoport ahead of the COP 27 conference.
The new study — World Heritage GlaciersSentinels of climate change –in partnership with IUCN shows that the glaciers have been retreating at an accelerated rate since 2000 due to CO2 emissions, which are warming temperatures. They are currently losing 58 billion tons of ice every year – equivalent to the combined annual water use of France and Spain– and are responsible for nearly 5% of observed global sea-level rise.
On the report, UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulaysaid, “ This report is a call to action. Only a rapid reduction in our CO2 emissions levels can save glaciers and the exceptional biodiversity that depends on them. COP27 will have a crucial role to help find solutions to this issue. UNESCO is determined to support states in pursuing this goal.
IUCN Director General Dr Bruno Oberlesaid “When glaciers melt rapidly, millions of people face water scarcity and the increased risk of natural disasters such as flooding, and millions more may be displaced by the resulting rise in sea levels. This study highlights the urgent need to cut greenhouse gas emissions and invest in Nature-based Solutions, which can help mitigate climate change and allow people to better adapt to its impacts.”
Half of humanity depends directly or indirectly on glaciers as their water source for domestic use, agriculture, and power. Glaciers are also pillars of biodiversity, feeding many ecosystems.
In addition to drastically reduced carbon emissions, UNESCO is advocating for the creation of an international fund for glacier monitoring and preservation. Such a fund would support comprehensive research, promote exchange networks between all stakeholders and implement early warning and disaster risk reduction measures.
SOME ENDANGERED GLACIERS BY REGION
According to available data, glaciers in all World Heritage sites in Africa will very likely be gone by 2050, incl. Kilimanjaro National Park and Mount Kenya
Glaciers in Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas (China) – #1 highest mass loss relative to 2000 (57.2%) and also the fastest melting glacier on the List
Glaciers in Western Tien-Shan (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan) have shrunk by 27% since 2000
In the Himalayas,, annual glacier runoff is projected to rise until roughly 2050, followed by a steady decline thereafte
Glaciers in Pyrenees Mont Perdu (France, Spain) – very likely to disappear by 2050
Glaciers in The Dolomites (Italy) – very likely to disappear by 2050
Glaciers in Los Alerces National Park (Argentina) – #2 highest mass loss relative to 2000 (45.6%)
Glaciers in Huascaran National Park (Peru) have shrunk by 15% since 2000
Glaciers in Yellowstone National Park (United States of America) – very likely to disappear by 2050
Glaciers in Yosemite National Park (United States of America) – very likely to disappear by 2050
Glaciers in Waterton Glacier International Peace Park (Canada, United States of America) have lost 26.5% of their volume in 20 years
Glaciers in Te Wahipounamu – South West New Zealand (New Zealand) have lost almost 20% of their volume since 2000