Leaders in Paris are in their second day of meetings to address climate change concerns. One of their primary goals is to reduce greenhouse gases in order to prevent the planet from warming to 2 C.
The planet has already warmed by 1 C. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Arctic. Greenland’s ice sheet is melting at an alarming rate. Recent research has found that Greenland is losing about five billion tons of mass each year.
But the changes are visible in other parts of the world as well.
The Imja Glacier, found in the Himalayas, is seen in the above images. The first image was taken in 1956 some time in the autumn, while the second was taken on Oct. 18, 2007. Recent studies have found more and more of these glacial lakes are forming in the Himalayas. (Credit: 1956 image, Erwin Schneider; courtesy of the Association for Comparative Alpine Research, Munich; 2007 image, Alton Byers; courtesy of the Archives of Alton Byers and the Mountain Institute)
Iceland is known for its volcanoes which is where most of the country’s ice caps and glaciers can be found. The images above are of Mýrdalsjökull, Iceland’s fourth largest ice cap, which covers the Katla volcano. The first image was taken on Sept 16, 1986; the second on September 20, 2014. The glacier in the lower part of the image is Sólheimajökull which has been retreating by about 50 metres a year. (Credit: Thematic Mapper onboard Landsat 5 and the Operational Land Imager onboard Landsat 8/ NASA Earth Observatory, using data from the U.S. Geological Survey)
Above, are two images of the Qori Kalis Glacier, found in Peru. It is part of the Quelccaya Ice Cap and is its largest outlet glacier 5,691 metres high in the Andes. The first image was taken in July 1978. The second image, taken in July 2011, shows that the glacier had retreated all the way back on land leaving a lake that was about 60 metres deep. (Credit: Dr. Lonnie G. Thompson, Distinguished University Professor, Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center, The Ohio State University)
McCall Glacier in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska is one of the most studied glaciers in the United States. The images compare the glacier in 1958 and again in 2003, illustrating its retreat. (Credit: 1958 image, Austin Post; 2003 image, Matt Nolan; Glacier Photograph Collection, National Snow and Ice Data Center/World Data Center for Glaciology )