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Climate Changes Reach Mt. Everest As It Slowly Melts

Update Date: May 15, 2013 02:51 PM EDT

Global warming and drastic climate changes have reached the world's highest mountain, Mount Everest, located in the Himalaya Mountains between China and Nepal. According to the researchers at the 2013 Meeting of the Americas located in Cancun, Mexico from May 14 to May 17, the earth's highest peak has succumbed to the warmer temperatures. The researchers, headed by graduate student, Sudeep Thakuri from the University of Milan in Italy, announced that the magnificent mountain has been melting over the past few decades.

The researchers were focused on the changes to the glaciers, temperatures and precipitation levels of Mount Everest and the Sagarmatha National Park. According to the research, the glaciers within the regions of the mountain have melted and shrunken by 13 percent within the past 50 years. Specifically, the glaciers have retreated around 1,300 feet on average since 1962. The researchers noted that the levels of precipitation, which include both rain and snow, dropped by 3.9 inches while the temperatures increased by one degree Fahrenheit since 1992. The snowline has also shifted inward by 590 feet.  

The research team was able to conclude these statistics with the help of satellite imagery and topographic maps. Although the researchers have not found a direct link between climate changes and the melting in this region, the statistics suggest that the glacial melting is due to warmer temperatures. Other mountains, within the Himalayas have also been melting with the smaller glaciers melting at a much faster rate. The fact that these glaciers are melting could potentially pose a threat to the communities within the region.

"The Himalayan glaciers and ice caps are considered a water tower for Asia since they store and supply water downstream during the dry season," Thakuri said. "Downstream populations are depended on the melt water for agriculture, drinking and power production."

On a more positive note, not all of the world's mountains are steadily melting. For example, the Karakoram Mountains located on the China-India-Pakistan border have remained relatively the same over the past few decades. Some evidence even suggests that the Karakoram Mountains might be growing despite climate changes.  

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