The one last remaining tropical glaciers between the Himalayas and the Andes are most likely to disappear within the next decade—and probably sooner—attributable to climate change, new research has discovered. The glaciers in Papua, Indonesia, are “the canaries within the coal mine” for different mountaintop glaciers all over the world, stated Lonnie Thompson, one of many senior authors of the study published within the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences today.
The glaciers, atop a mountain close to Puncak Jaya, on the western half of the island of New Guinea, have been melting for years, Thompson stated. However, that melt elevated quickly due partially to a strong 2015-2016 El Niño, a phenomenon that causes tropical ocean water and atmospheric temperatures to get warmer. El Niños are natural phenomena; however, their results have been amplified by global warming.
As soon as the water starts streaming by crevasses within the glacier to the bedrock, it additionally begins to lubricate the glacier alongside its backside. This ultimately creates a warm pool beneath the glacier, which can cause the glacier to slide, ever-so-slowly, down the mountain to decrease elevations the place temperatures are warmer.
That melt can have an effect on the data scientists are in a position to be taught from the cores, which usually present year-by-year information data of the climate across the glacier. Because the glacier melts, these year-by-year data can change into blurred. In this case, however, the cores nonetheless showed proof of El Niño occasions all through the ice cores’ history.
The glacier’s disappearance is a cultural loss, too, Thompson stated: The indigenous people who live around the mountain worship it.