Major glacier at Yangtze River source retreating

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One of the largest glaciers at the source of Yangtze River is retreating at an alarming pace, scientists warned on Tuesday.

The Jianggudiru Glacier on Geladaindong Mountain has shrunk 34 meters over the past six years, said Pu Jianchen, a researcher with the Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The glacier started to shrink slowly in the 1970s, but reversed the trend and expanded between 1989 and 1994 before retreating more quickly from 1995, said Pu.

Yang Xin, president of the Green River Environmental Protection Association, said the glacier retreated two meters a year in the 1980s and 1990s but about six meters a year over the past few years. "This is direct evidence of global climate change," he said.

Pu said the retreat of glaciers could add waterflow in the short term but could reduce waterflow and eventually dry up a river in the long term.

Members of the scientific expedition team called on the public to cut emissions of greenhouse gases to limit climate change.

Meanwhile, the scientists said they have taken photos of endangered snow leopards at unprecedented altitudes.

The pictures were captured by infrared cameras they placed on the glacier at an altitude of over 5,500 meters last October.

Snow leopards, one of China's Class A protected animals, are usually found in the Himalayas in central and south Asia at altitudes between 3,000 and 5,500 meters.

The animal has rarely been seen in the wild over the last century due to loss of habitat and poaching. It is estimated that less than 10,000 snow leopards live in the wild worldwide, with about 2,500 to 3,500 in China.

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