Although the 2007 melt rate of the ice fell from 2006’s record levels, said Wilfried Haeberli, the loss was still the third lowest ever recorded. Small glaciers – which make up the majority by number – will not recover, Haeberli noted, even under moderate predictions of global warming.
“If the climate is not really cooling dramatically,” he said, “they’ll retreat and disintegrate. This means many will simply be lost in the next decades – 10, 20, 30, 40 years. If you have a realistic, mid-warming scenario, then there’s no hope for the small glaciers – in the Pyrenees, in Africa, in the Andes or Rocky Mountains. The large glaciers in Alaska and the Himalayas will take longer, but even those very large glaciers will change completely; they will be much, much smaller and many of them will disintegrate, forming lakes in many cases.”
While the monitoring group’s data covers only some of the planet’s glaciers, its figures are mirrored in reports from climate experts around the world.
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