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4 out of 5 glaciers may be lost by 2100 if fossil fuel use continues: Study

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In yet another case of the effects of global warming, a study has said that four out of five glaciers, or over 80 per cent, may be lost by the end of this century if an unabated use of fossil fuel continues. This century, according to the study, the world could lose as much as 41 per cent of its total glacier mass, depending on today’s climate change mitigation efforts.

The study mentioned that even in the best-case scenarios, where the increase in global mean temperature is limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius relative to pre-industrial levels, over 25 per cent of glacial mass will be gone. It said nearly 50 per cent of glaciers by number are projected to disappear.

While most of these lost glaciers are small but their disappearance could impact local hydrology, tourism, glacier hazards, and cultural values, the study said.

Smaller glacial regions like Central Europe and Western Canada and the US will be disproportionately affected by temperatures rising more than 2 degrees Celsius C. At a 3 degrees Celsius rise, glaciers in these regions almost disappear completely, the study said.

Even if the rate of emissions to the environment is cut today, it will not remove the greenhouse gases that have been in the environment. The study said even a complete halt to emissions would still take between 30 and 100 years to be reflected in glacier mass loss rates.

The study by Assistant Professor David Rounce of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University, US advances how models account for different types of glaciers, including tidewater and debris-covered glaciers.

While tidewater glaciers refer to those that terminate in the ocean, debris-covered glaciers are those that are covered by sand, rocks, and boulders.

Prior work by David Rounce has shown that the thickness and distribution of debris cover can have a positive or negative effect on glacial melt rates, depending on their thickness.

(With agency inputs)

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