The Heat Is Online

Mt. Everest Retreats At Record Rate

Global warming blamed for melting Everest glacier

Planetark.Org, June 8, 2002

GENEVA - A glacier from which Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay set out to conquer Mount Everest nearly 50 years ago has retreated five km (three miles) up the mountain due to global warming, a U.N. body says.

A team of climbers, backed by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), reported after their two-week visit last month that the impact of rising temperatures was everywhere to be seen.

The landscape bears the scars of sudden glacial retreat, while glacial lakes are swollen by melted ice, UNEP spokesman Michael Williams told Reuters yesterday.

During their visit, the team of climbers from the International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation (UIAA) spoke to the head of the Nepal Mountaineering Association, Tashi Jangbu Sherpa, who told them that the ice fields had seen rapid change over the past 20 years.

"He told us that Hillary and Tenzing would now have to walk two hours to find the edge of the glacier which was close to their original base camp," Williams quoted UIAA president Ian McNaught-Davis as saying.

In 1953, New Zealander Hillary and Tenzing, a native of Nepal, became the first climbers to reach the summit of the world's highest mountain.

UNEP recently warned that more than 40 Himalayan glacial lakes were dangerously close to bursting, threatening the lives of thousands of people, because of ice melt caused by global warming.

According to scientists, the average global temperature could rise by 1.4-5.8 degrees Celsius over the next 100 years unless governments take action to cut emissions of so-called greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide.

REUTERS NEWS SERVICE