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The analysis led by Joshua Maurer shows that 8 billion tonnes of ice are being lost each year and not being replaced by snow with the lower level glaciers shrinking in height by 5 m annually. Their study also shows that only global heating caused by human activity can explain the heavy melting observed.

A report published in February 2019 concluded that ‘at least one third of the ice in the Hindu Kush-Himalaya ranges were already doomed to melt by the end of this century even if action was taken now to limit carbon emissions rapidly. Without action, two thirds would go’.

Melting glaciers will contribute to the mean rise in sea level along with thermal expansion of the oceans due to rise in sea temperature.

The other global concern of the continuing retreat of the glaciers with much more serious consequences is that many communities, comprising more than 1 billion people, are dependent upon melt water to provide water for themselves and their crops. The rivers that would be most affected are those fed by the melt waters of the Himalayan glaciers include the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Yellow rivers which flow through countries with large populations including Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and China.

Reference Melting of Himalayan glaciers doubles in 20 years Guardian newspaper 20/06/2019

Tropical rainforests

The tropical rainforests form a very important part of the Earth’s eco systems for the following reasons –

  • over half the world’s plants and animal species are found in them
  • the Amazon rainforest alone releases 20 billion tonnes of moisture every day, helping to water crops thousands of kilometres away
  • healthy rainforests absorb up to 10% of mankind’s carbon emissions each year through photosynthesis and storing carbonaceous products in plants, trees, roots and soils; up to 100 – 300 tonnes of carbon per hectare can be stored

tropical rainforest

These types of forest are very susceptible to any substantial rise in average temperature so die back of the forests will occur as the temperature continues to rise so diminishing their ability to regulate the climate. However these forests face an even more serious short term threat than climate change that is deforestation.

Typical area of rainforest showing diversity of vegetation

In the past deforestation was associated with the subsistence activities of local people. They cleared native forests to grow crops or to provide firewood, charcoal or timber for construction. These products were either consumed by families or traded locally.



 

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