water resource

Understanding the future of the Andean Water Tower

Written by Owen King The consequences of high mountain deglaciation The loss of ice from the planet’s high mountain environments is one of the most vivid visual examples of the impact of climate change on the natural environment. Glaciers have receded and thinned, in some cases to the point of extinction, in many of Earth’s … Read more

Deplete and Retreat: Andes Water Towers

The Andes provide water resources to some 90 million people along their entire length. The food and water security of these people depends on the stores of water held in the snow and glacier ice in these mountains. Climate change is affecting these stores of water. Snowfall events are increasingly fewer in number, but bring … Read more

Rock glacier flow

This article was written by Camryn Kluetmeier. Rock glaciers are part of a continuum, with clean-ice glaciers at one end, debris-covered glaciers in the middle, and rock glaciers at the far end. Like glaciers, rock glaciers flow downslope, but the speed at which they flow is variable on a timescale of days, seasons and decades. … Read more

Rock Glaciers

Rock glaciers are relatively small lenses of ice or frozen sediment that are covered by large amounts of seasonally frozen rock debris. The upper debris layer is known as the ‘active layer’, whilst the core of a rock glacier may comprise pure ice or large volumes of more fine-grained sediment. Rock debris is typically sourced from … Read more

New paper: Millan et al. 2022: a new estimate of global glacier ice volume and ice velocity

An interesting new paper has just been published in Nature Geoscience by Romain Millan, Jeremie Mouginot, Antoine Rabatel and Mathieu Morligheim on the velocity and thickness of the world’s glaciers. They make a revised estimate of global glacier ice volume. They aren’t looking at ice in the Greenland or Antarctic ice sheets, just glaciers worldwide. … Read more

What does COP26 mean for global glacier and ice sheet change?

Earth’s glaciers are shrinking at an alarming rate. Each year they are losing more mass than is being replenished in each accumulation season.28 trillion tonnes of ice was lost from 1994 to 2017, and rates have risen by 57% since the 1990s. At present, global ice volume is shrinking at a rate of 267±16 Gt/year, … Read more

Debris-covered glacier landsystems

This article was written by Katie Miles from Aberystwyth University. Debris-covered glaciers are valley glaciers that have a layer of rocks and sediment on top of the ice surface. While this can range from a thin smattering of rocks to a thick layer several meters deep (even on the same glacier surface), we typically define … Read more

Water resources

Mountains around the world provide water for downstream communities. Glaciers and snowpacks store the water, and release it in dry seasons as the snow and ice melts. Glaciers are therefore a water resource, but this water resource is threatened by glacier recession. Water is essential for life on Earth. Human societies use water to irrigate … Read more

The world’s mountain ‘water towers’ are melting, putting 1.9 billion people at risk

Bethan Davies, Royal Holloway The year 2019 concludes a decade of exceptional heat, and is on track to be the second or third warmest year on record. While the global average temperature teeters on 1.1°C above the pre-industrial record, the world’s glaciers are in stark retreat. In high mountain areas, the steady trickle of melting … Read more

Glaciers as a water resource

Mountains as Water Towers of the World In many mountainous parts of the world with a seasonal rainfall, glaciers are a reliable water resource in the dry season. Mountains could be called the “Water Towers of the World”1, providing water from glacier melt and orographic rainfall to lowland regions.  Glacierised drainage basins cover 26% of … Read more

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