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Glaciers Fading away in Xinjiang

Experts hold warm climate has led to a significant deterioration of glaciers in the towering Tianshan Mountains in China's westernmost Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, threatening local ecological environment.


The Dongtianshan glaciers, or glacier in eastern Tianshan mountains are retreating at a speed of eight meters a year, according to an on-going investigation into the ecological environment in the region's Hami Prefecture.


As a leading water source of the inland prefecture, the Dongtianshan glaciers in Hami region cover an area of 108.9 sq km with an ice storage of approximately 6,500 million cubic meters.


"If the climate continues to be warming, the glaciers or "solid reservoir" of Hami, will fade away totally in a matter of 60 years," noted experts with the investigation team.


The probe ascribed over-exploitation of groundwater to hastening deglaciation.


The annual storage of groundwater in Hami stands at some 820 million cubic meters with a workable volume of 500 million cubic meters, acknowledged the experts. But the actual annual exploitation amount has reached up to 590 million cubic meters, which accelerates the seepage rate of the thawed ice.


Local government is urged to adopt an appropriate program for groundwater exploitation to protect local ecological environment.


The Tianshan Mountains are home to 6,890 glaciers in an area of 9,500 sq km. China set up a research station in the Tianshan Mountains to observe glacier changes in 1959.


(Xinhua News Agency November 9, 2004)


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