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The glaciers atop Mt. Everest are melting at an unprecedented rate and anthropogenic global warming is likely to blame. The news comes on the heels of reports that CO2 levels have reached their highest in human history, surpassing the 400 parts per million mark, and climate change is shifting the location of the North and South Poles. Researchers from the University of Milan say that ice coverage on top of Earth’s highest mountain has shrunk by 13 percent in the last five decades.
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Speaking recently in Cancun at the Meeting of the Americas organized by the American Geophysical Union, lead researcher Sudeep Thakuri said that glaciers smaller than one square kilometer are melting faster than the rest, while temperatures in the region have increased by approximately 0.6°C. PTI reports that the snowline has moved 180 meters upwards and that the retreating glaciers have unveiled rocks and debris that were previously hidden.
While the researchers believe that human-induced climate change is behind the rapid melting, Thakuri was reluctant to draw a definitive relationship between the two. The news is especially troubling for communities living at the base of the mountain, who depend on meltwater for drinking water, irrigation and even energy.
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