Researchers have found that glaciers on Mt. Everest in the Himalayas, the world’s highest peak, have shrunk by about 14 percent in the past 50 years in what they suspect is the effect of climate change.
The pace at which the glaciers have been decreasing in recent years is nearly six times that of the average between 1958 and 1975, according to recent research led by Sudeep Thakuri of Italy’s University of Milan.
Members of the research team are warning that the decline in glaciers and snow will likely pose a major impact on Asia’s water resources and agriculture.
“The Himalayan glaciers and ice caps are considered a water tower for Asia since they store and supply water downstream during the dry season,” Thakuri said in a press release.
The researchers studied the scope of glacial change on Mt. Everest and the surrounding 1,150 square kilometer area by using the 1958-2011 satellite imagery and found the surface area of the glaciers has decreased to 339.5 square km in 2011 from 396.2 square km in 1958.
The research team also found that the ends of the glaciers have retreated by 400 meters since 1962. In a sign of global warming, the average temperature in the Mt. Everest region has marked a 0.6 C degree increase since 1992.
But the team has yet to establish a strong link between glacial and climate change.