Melting Glacier Leaves World’s Worst Polluter With No Room For Doubt

Jonathan Watts reports in the Guardian (with video clips):

Up close, the sound of global warming at the face of the Urumqi No1 Glacier is a simple, steady drip, drip, drip. Just 30 metres from the main wall, the flood of meltwater becomes so powerful that it cuts a tunnel under the floor of grey ice, leaving only a blotchy, wafer-thin crust on the surface.

Compared with the collapse of ice shelves in the Antarctic, the melting of the mountains in China’s far west is one of the less spectacular phenomena of global warming, but it is a more immediate cause of concern and hope.

There is concern because this glacier – more than almost any other in China – is a natural water regulator for millions of people downstream in the far western region of Xinjiang. In winter, it stores up snow and ice. In summer, it releases meltwater to provide drinking and irrigation supplies to one of the country’s most arid regions. It brings hope because its rapid shrinkage is helping to set off climate-change alarm bells in a country that emits more greenhouse gases than any other.

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