The state of glaciers and their impact on the climate crisis. The article highlights the thinning of glaciers and their contribution to rising sea levels, as well as the increased risk of glacier lake outburst floods.
The World Meteorological Organization's report "The Global Climate 2011-2020" highlights the state of glacier health.
On average, the world's glaciers thinned by approximately a meter per year from 2011 to 2020.
Glaciers in all regions of the world are becoming smaller, with significant regional variability.
Some reference glaciers have already melted away, as winter snow is completely melting away during summer.
Glaciers on the Rwenzori Mountains and Mount Kenya in Africa are projected to disappear by 2030, and those on Kilimanjaro by 2040.
The report warns of the rapid growth of pro-glacial lakes and the likelihood of glacier lake outburst floods (GLOFs), which pose additional threats to ecosystems and livelihoods.
The report mentions that water from glacial melt contributed to the Uttarakhand floods of June 2013, one of the decade's worst flooding disasters.
The Chungthang dam in Sikkim was destroyed by a GLOF event caused by flooding from a melting glacier.
Glaciers in the Hindu Kush Himalayas are disappearing 65% faster in the 2010s than in the previous decade.
Global greenhouse gas emissions are expected to increase temperatures by 2.5°-3°C by the end of the century, leading to a decline in glacier volume of 55% to 75%.
This will result in sharp reductions in freshwater supply by 2050.
There is currently no early warning system for GLOF events caused by melting glaciers.
Authorities need to elevate the threats from contracting glaciers to the same category of risk as cyclones, floods, and earthquakes.
Comprehensive risk assessments, mapping of vulnerable regions, and infrastructure development with high standards of care are necessary.