Some of the famous glaciers in UNESCO World Heritage sites are in danger of disappearing due to climate change. This is a third of the sites on the list whose glaciers will melt by 2050. This was reported by UNESCO today.
As long as the temperature on Earth does not rise more than 1.5 degrees compared to the pre-industrial era, glaciers at other locations can still be saved.
It is likely that all glaciers will disappear at sites in Africa by 2050. This concerns, for example, the glaciers of Kilimanjaro. In Europe, the Monte Perdido glaciers in the Pyrenees and the Dolomites of Italy may have melted by then. Other glaciers on the World Heritage List will also be greatly reduced, according to UNESCO, which has researched them with the nature organization IUCN.
Fifty World Heritage Sites have glaciers. Together they cover an area of about 66,000 square kilometres. This represents about 10 percent of the total glacier area on Earth. Since 2000, ice masses have been retreating at an accelerating rate due to rising temperatures. Currently, they are losing an estimated 58 billion tons of ice each year.
UNESCO President Audrey Azoulay is calling on countries to take action to quickly reduce greenhouse gas emissions to curb global warming. “Only a rapid reduction in our carbon dioxide emissions can save the glaciers and the extraordinary biodiversity that depends on them.” UNESCO notes that about half of the world’s population depends directly or indirectly on glaciers, as a source of water for example. Moreover, melting is causing sea level rise and increased flood risk.
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