The largest ice cap in the tropics is Quelccaya in Peru. National Geographic says that “if it continues to melt at its current rate—contracting more than 600 feet (182.8 meters) a year in some places—it will be gone by 2100.” They quote geologist Daniel Fagre: “things that normally happen in geologic time are happening during the span of a human lifetime,” meaning: the speed of melting and dissapearing of the glaciers is not normal.
It is happening all over the world: “The famed snows of Kilimanjaro have melted more than 80 percent since 1912.” Even the Himalaya could soon look much different than how we picture it: “Glaciers in the Garhwal Himalaya in India are retreating so fast that researchers believe that most central and eastern Himalayan glaciers could virtually disappear by 2035.” The same story can be told on all continents.
In Europe we can take Switzerland as an example: the Swiss Glaciers are dissapearing quickly due to rising temperatures in the Alpes. Around 10% of the ice covering has been reduced in only the last 10 years. What does this mean for the region? The glaciers are the providers of fresh water not only for the population, but also for the fauna and flora. This means that biodiversity will be highly reduced when glaciers disappear. The Swiss also have to fear a growing number of landslides.
Quite similarly, permafrost is melting. You have to imagine permafrost like the ever-frozen ground in cold regions like some parts of Russia or Canada. This is a big problem in the Arctic and Antarctic region, in Alaska and Greenland alike. In the Arctic there might be “no summer ice at all by 2030”, says Britain’s telegraph. The problem with melting permafrost is that it contains large amounts of methan gas. These greenhouse gases increase then the global warming which causes more permafrost to melt, etc etc. Besides, if permafrost goes away, so does the stability of the soil in the region, a danger for the population living in the area.
I don’t know what your reality is, but there is no doubt that glaciers are disappearing. Do we really want to risk it? Do we really want to lose these amazing landscapes?
Picture taken by Sheila at Perito Moreno Glacier (gracias!) in Patagonia, Argentina: one of the few glaciers which are growing.