Some of the iconic glaciers in UNESCO World Heritage Sites are at risk of disappearing due to climate change. That’s a third of the sites on the list whose glaciers will melt by 2050. UNESCO reports today.
As long as the temperature on Earth does not warm more than 1.5 degrees above the pre-industrial era, glaciers in other places can still be saved.
All glaciers in Africa will probably have disappeared by 2050. This concerns, for example, the ice masses of Kilimanjaro. In Europe, the glaciers of Monte Perdido in the Pyrenees and the Dolomites in Italy probably melted at this time. Other glaciers on the World Heritage List will also shrink to a large extent, according to UNESCO, which has conducted research on them with nature organization IUCN.
Fifty World Heritage Sites have glaciers. Together they cover an area of approximately 66,000 square kilometers. This represents about 10% of the total area of glaciers on earth. Since the year 2000, ice masses have been retreating at an accelerated rate due to higher temperatures. Currently, they lose about 58 billion tons of ice every year.
UNESCO chief Audrey Azoulay calls on countries to take action to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions to limit global warming. “Only a rapid reduction in our CO2 emissions can save the glaciers and the exceptional biodiversity that depends on them.” UNESCO points out that around half of the world’s population depends directly or indirectly on glaciers, for example as a source of water. In addition, melting causes sea level rise and an increased risk of flooding.
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