Global Warming Shrinks China’s Tibetan Plateau Glaciers by 15% in 30yrs

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | May 22, 2014 1:03 PM EST

China's very own glaciers off in the Qinghai-Tibet plateau have shrunk by 15 per cent in the last 30 years because of global warming.

REUTERS/NASA Earth Observatory
The B-31 Iceberg is seen before, (top) on October 28, 2013 and after separating on November 13, 2013, from a rift in Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier in this NASA Earth Observatory handout image. Scientists are monitoring an unusually large iceberg - roughly six times the size of Manhattan - that broke off from an Antarctic glacier and is heading into the open ocean, although not in an area heavily navigated by ships. REUTERS/NASA Earth Observatory/Holli Riebeek/Handout via Reuters.

In a report, official state-run media Xinhua News said at least 8,000 square kilometres (3,089 square miles) of glaciers have thinned out in the Qinghai-Tibet plateau in western China. This plateau covers the Tibetan Autonomous Region and highland parts of neighbouring provinces.

From a total of 53,000 sq km, glaciers in the Qinghai-Tibet plateau are now only 45,000 sq km.

Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) said melting glaciers has accelerated since the 1990s, including the Chinese portion of the Himalayas.

"More and bigger cracks are now being seen in ice on Mount Everest, a sign of rapidly melting glaciers," scientists said.

"As the highest place in the world's mid-latitude regions, the plateau is more likely to be affected by global warming... China has more than 46,000 glaciers, mainly in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. They are a reliable indicator of climate change, and easy for scientists to observe. Kang said retreating glaciers have impacted meltwater rivers and led to more glacier-lake outbursts. "It can increase water flow of major rivers in the short term, but in the long run, a continuation of the retreat will eventually deplete the glacial ice and substantially reduce or eliminate runoff," he added," the Shanghai Daily quoted CAS researcher Kang Shichang.

A very evident ill result of the shrinking glaciers have impacted meltwater rivers and led to more glacier-lake outbursts.

"It can increase water flow of major rivers in the short term, but in the long run, a continuation of the retreat will eventually deplete the glacial ice and substantially reduce or eliminate runoff," Mr Kang said.

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(Photo: REUTERS/NASA Earth Observatory / )
The B-31 Iceberg is seen before, (top) on October 28, 2013 and after separating on November 13, 2013, from a rift in Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier in this NASA Earth Observatory handout image. Scientists are monitoring an unusually large iceberg - roughly six times the size of Manhattan - that broke off from an Antarctic glacier and is heading into the open ocean, although not in an area heavily navigated by ships. REUTERS/NASA Earth Observatory/Holli Riebeek/Handout via Reuters.
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