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Unstrange Phenomena

06 December 2009

Mount Everest Glaciers Melting Worry Half a Billion People: Fresh Drinking Water

From Denny: Watching the video of Mount Everest in the Himalayan winter is astonishing. It looks like summer with melted glacier turned into small meltwater ponds and lakes with bare rock mountains now.

This glacier is now stationary and worries scientists. Why is it important for a glacier to keep moving slowly as opposed to suddenly stopping and standing still? Because when a glacier is standing still it means it is literally rotting from the inside core out: melting.

The scientists take us inside an ice cave to view the glacier from the inside out. All the beautiful intriguing ice sculptures are deceptive in their beauty. The melting water from above in the little idyllic ponds and lakes have worked their way down into the ice caves, carving out these sculptures. Essentially, the above meltwaters are working their way back into the core of the glacier to melt it also from the inside out, eventually collapsing whole caves like this one in the film. This news clip makes it available to you to view the death of a glacier. Eerie stuff...

What scientists are most worried about is that these glaciers keep frozen huge amounts of fresh drinking water that normally melt in small amounts, in turn feeding the various rivers of Southeast Asia. Without cold temperatures to keep the glacier frozen, the water melts too fast and too much, causing flooding downstream and a shortage of drinking waters. Overflowing downstream rivers does no good; it has to be at an acceptable rate for the rivers to accept. Otherwise, flooding just keeps rushing on until it empties into a large body of water like an ocean.

At best the solution to the problem may be for this impoverished region to consider building dams high up in the mountains to contain the rapidly melting waters. Without it they are going to have to move whole cities and villages out of the melting glacier's path.

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