Researchers in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous
Region said glaciers in the region are shrinking at alarming speeds
and called for artificial measures to protect them.
Wang Feiteng, an assistant researcher with the Tianshan Mountain
glacier monitoring station under the Chinese Academy of Sciences
(CAS), said the No.1 glacier at Tianshan has lost 20 million cubic
meters of ice in the last four decades, and the east and west
sections of the glacier are receding by 3.5 meters and 5.9 meters
respectively every year.
The glacier, situated 3,545 meters above sea level in the
Tianshan Mountains, the largest glacier area in Xinjiang, separated
into two parts in 1993 as the warmer climate melted some of the
"Like the hard drive of a computer, glaciers record how the
environment has changed. Warm weather has been the major cause of
the glacier's retreat," Wang said.
China is home to about 46,000 glaciers, totaling 60,000 square
kilometers and mostly distributed in Tibet and Xinjiang. Xinjiang
is home to 42 percent of the total glacial areas in the
Aerial surveys show the total glacier acreage in Xinjiang has
shrunk by 20 percent and snow lines have receded about 60 meters
since 1964. CAS statistics show the internal temperature of the
glaciers has risen by 10 percent in the last two decades.
"Glaciers are sometimes called 'solid reservoirs'. They are one
of the major water resources in an arid region like Xinjiang," said
Hu Wenkang, a researcher with the CAS.
"But melting glaciers may cause floods and landslides in some
areas, and fail to provide water for rivers," Hu said, adding that
prompt measures, like creating artificial rain, are needed to
protect the glaciers.
Previous reports say global warming is taking a toll on the
Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in southwest China, and experts say the
symptoms include shrinking glaciers, frozen earth melting,
grasslands turning yellow and rivers drying up.
On June 4, China issued its first national plan to address
climate change. The plan said the country hopes to reduce carbon
dioxide emissions by approximately 50 million tons by 2010 through
the development of hydro power projects. Another 110 million tons
of greenhouse gas will be cut by eliminating small thermal power
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Wednesday again urged local
governments to save energy, ordering them to give higher priority
to the environment and climate change-related work.
(Xinhua News Agency July 13, 2007)