May 14, 2013 2:00 pm
Even the roof of the world is not immune to climate change. New research indicates that Mount Everest and its surrounding peaks are losing their ice cover, and that snowfall in the region has been declining since the 1990s amidst warming temperatures.
Over the past 50 years, the snow line has receded nearly 600 feet up the mountain and glaciers in the region have shrunk by 13 percent, the researchers report. Smaller glaciers, less than half a square mile, are melting the quickest and have shrunk by about 43 percent since the 1960s. Most glaciers in the national park, they found, are shrinking at an increasing rate.
The team arrived at these findings by surveying around 700 square miles surrounding Mount Everest and comparing the current conditions to past images reconstructed from satellite imagery and maps. They relied upon data collected by observatory stations and Nepal’s Department of Hydrology and Meteorology for calculating temperature fluctuations throughout the years. Since 1992, they found, the Everest region has increased in temperature by nearly two degrees Fahrenheit while snowfall decreased by almost four inches during that same period.
While the researchers cannot definitively link the changes seen on Mount Everest and its surroundings to increases in human-generated greenhouse gases, they strongly suspect climate change is the culprit behind their observations.
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