Glaciers in China's high-altitude western areas have shrunk
seven to 18 percent over the past five years, according to a new
survey by Chinese scientists.
A second research that started in May this year on the country's
glaciers indicated an average shrinking of 7.4 percent compared
with the results of the first survey completed in 2002.
A total area of nearly 20,000 square kilometers, or around
one-third of the country's total, has been surveyed in the new
The yet-to-be-completed survey was launched by experts from the
Ministry of Science and Technology and the Chinese Academy of
Sciences (CAS). It was the second nationwide survey undertaken and
would be finished in five years. The first survey was conducted
from 1978 to 2002.
Glaciers in the Junggar Basin and Ili River areas in northern
Xinjiang and the upper reaches of the Yarlung Zangbo River in Tibet
had the most evident shrinkage of 18 percent or more, the survey
In Qilian Mountain in the northwest and the Lancang River area
in the southwest shank the glaciers shrank by about 10 percent on
"The change of glaciers is in fact a manifestation of the
pressure upon China's environment by global warming," said Ding
Yongjian, a CAS research fellow.
Global warming has led to an increase in the average temperature
in the western area of China over the past few decades. This has
caused the glacial shrinking, a thawing of frozen earth and
worsening arid conditions, said the scholar.
Qin Dahe, a CAS academician and head of the panel of experts for
the survey, said the project would provide basic data for the study
on the effects of climate change upon Chinese glaciers in the past
20 years. It would also provide information about the use of water
resources in the arid western areas.
China has about 46,000 glaciers covering a total area of nearly
60,000 sq km. These accounted for more than 50 percent of the
glaciers in the middle and low latitude areas of the Earth.
(Xinhua News Agency December 15, 2007)