UN: Global warming to melt major glaciers by 2050, including Yosemite's
Glaciers at some of the most famous World Heritage sites are set to vanish within 30 years due to climate change — including those at Yosemite National Park, a new UN report warns.
Threat level: "Glaciers in a third of the 50 World Heritage sites are condemned to disappear by 2050, regardless of efforts to limit temperature increases," according to the UNESCO report, published Thursday.
- Also at risk of disappearing are the ice patches at Yellowstone National Park, which was this year hit by historic flooding, and Africa's last glaciers — including Mount Kilimanjaro.
By the numbers: Researchers studied some 18,600 glaciers at 50 World Heritage sites, covering some 25,000 square miles and found they've "been retreating at an accelerated rate since 2000 due to CO2 emissions, which are warming temperatures," according to the report.
- Glaciers at World Heritage sites were losing about 58 billion tonnes of ice every year and accounted for up to 4.5% of observed global sea level rise, according to the study, published ahead of next week's COP27 climate change conference in Egypt.
What we're watching: It "is still possible to save the glaciers in the remaining two thirds of sites if the rise in temperatures does not exceed 1.5°C compared to the pre-industrial period," the report notes.
Yes, but: The world is on track to exceed that Paris Agreement target in the next five years.
Between the lines: "What is quite unprecedented in the historical record is how quickly this is happening," said Beata Csatho, a glaciologist from the University of Buffalo, to the BBC.
- "In the middle of the 1900s, glaciers were quite stable. Then there is this incredibly fast retreat," added Csatho, who was not involved in the study.
- Thomas Slater, a glaciologist at the United Kingdom's University of Leeds, who also wasn't involved in the research, told CNN "we should take hope in the fact that reducing emissions can save the majority" of glaciers.
- This would "avoid disruption to the water supply of millions of people worldwide who live downstream," he said.
Zoom in: Other World Heritage sites listed as having glaciers set to vanish by 2050:
- Nahanni National Park (Canada).
- Pyrenees Mont Perdu (France, Spain).
- Swiss Tectonic Arena Sardona (Switzerland).
- The Dolomites (Italy).
- Putorana Plateau (Russia).
- Natural System Of Wrangel Island Reserve (Russia).
- Virgin Komi Forests (Russia).
- Durmitor National Park (Montenegro).
- Mount Kenya National Park/Natural Forest.
- Virunga National Park (Democratic Republic of the Congo).
- Mount Kenya National Park/Natural Forest (Kenya).
- Rwenzori Mountains National Park (Uganda).
- Huanlong Scenic and Historic Interest Area (China).
- Hyrcanian Forests (Iran).
- Lorentz National Park (Indonesia).