the end of this century, the landscape around Mount Everest may
drastically change. As the planet continues to warm, the Everest region
of Nepal could lose most of its glaciers, according to a study published in the journal The Cryosphere.
“We did not expect to see glaciers reduced at such a large scale,” said Joseph Shea, a glacier hydrologist at the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development in Nepal and lead author of the new report. “The numbers are quite frightening.”
Shea and his colleagues found that moderate reductions in greenhouse
gas emissions could result in a 70 percent loss of glaciers around Mount
Everest, while a business-as-usual scenario in which emissions remain
at the same levels could result in a 99 percent loss.
arrive at these findings, Dr. Shea and his colleagues used a computer
model for glacier melt, accumulation and redistribution. They customized
the model with data on temperature and precipitation, measurements from
the field and remote-sensing observations collected over 50 years from
the Dudh Koshi basin, which includes Mount Everest and several of the
world’s other highest peaks.
model took into account how much mass glaciers gain from snowfall, as
well as the way that mass is redistributed by continual downward
movement. The researchers applied the model to eight future climate
scenarios, from moderate emissions reductions to none at all.
results do not bode well for the glaciers around Everest. Even if
emissions are reduced by midcentury and rain in the region increases,
the model predicts that the majority of the glaciers will probably
disappear by 2100.