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Glaciers at Mt. Qomolangma Shrinking Fast, Survey

When conducting a scientific investigation at the Rongbuk Glacier, north slope of Mt. Qomolangma (Everest), the Chinese Team for Surveying Mt. Qomolangma found that glaciers on this side have been shrinking rapidly.

Compared with 2002, the upper limit of the ablation zone of the East Rongbuk Glacier went up 50 meters, from 6350 to 6400 meters above sea level, within three years.

Kang Shichang, head of the team and a glacier scientist who once surveyed the northern slope in 1998, 2000 and 2002, told PD reporter that various signs showed that the Rongbuk Glacier is melting at a faster speed and the glacier is shrinking seriously.

We found large amounts of snow at the 6,000-meter-high East Rongbuk Glacier in 2002, but only a little remains now, Kang said. The numerous ablation pits on the surface of the glacier have left it looking completely "broken". Kang added that in 2002 they once found a 30-meter- long ice cliff, 5,500 meters above sea level, at the bottom of the glacier, as well as an ice lake below it, covering an area about hundreds of square meters, but this year both of them are found disappeared.

To study the material balance conditions there, Chinese scientists once set up more than 20 poles at the East Rongbuk Glacier in 2003, but only 4 of them remained this year. "This means our work last year was in vain", Kang worried, "the glacier is shrinking so fast that our poles all fell".

According to Kang, the overall shrinkage of High-Asia glaciers including Mt. Qomolangma will lead to over spending of glacier reserve which, although providing more supply to rivers in short term, would bring about unpredictable ecological disasters. If the global warming continues at the current speed, it is estimated that by 2100, most glaciers will extinct and some glacier-provided rivers will go dry.

Peoples Daily

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