The thawing of the No.1 glacier of the Tianshan Mountains in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region has accelerated, largely due to global warming, local scientists say.
The trend indicates the affluent data the glacier carries about climate and environment in both modern and ancient times are losing at a quicker rate, the scientists added.
Approximately 120 kilometers away from the regional capital, Urumqi, the No.1 glacier is the nearest from a city in the world. With its typical sediments, the glacier is appraised as "living fossils". Until now it has been the best place for glacial observation in China, boasting one of the best preserved glacial records in the world.
Li Zhongqin, head of the Tianshan Mountains Glacier Observation Station under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said that ice coring picked up from glaciers were seen as best carriers for data of ancient climate and environment. The data recorded in glaciers were better than those by tree's growth rings and earth and deep-sea sediments in terms of definition and fidelity.
According to the observation station, over the past 45 years in which glacial data were collected, the No.1 Tianshan glacier had its thickness down by 11 meters. And the decrease was up to more than 20 meters in some parts of the glacier.
An analysis on the glacial data collected between 1958 and 2003 showed that the No. 1 glacier lost 18.38 million cubic meters of ice.
(Xinhua News Agency December 30, 2005)