Last year, glaciers in Europe’s Alps melted faster than ever before, the United Nations says. More than 60 percent of the water tanks experienced a flow less than or equal to normal flow. This is evident in a United Nations report published in Geneva on Thursday.
“The European Alps have experienced an unprecedented loss of glacier mass,” the World Meteorological Organization said. Snow cover was below normal almost everywhere, except in parts of South America.
As a result of global warming, “glaciers and ice sheets are retreating before our eyes,” as WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas lamented. Floods and droughts are increasing dramatically.
More generally, more than half of the world’s river systems have experienced abnormal conditions. As with last year, most were affected by lower trading volumes. However, in some cases the amounts were “much higher.”
Access to water
The United Nations organization warned that the shift to a warm El Niño current this year is likely to have major hydrological consequences, noting that several water-related disasters occurred around the world last year.
Currently, more than 3.5 billion people do not have enough water for at least one month a year. This number is expected to rise to more than 5 billion by 2050, according to UN-Water, the United Nations water agency. “The vast majority of disasters are water-related,” says Taalas.
He adds that the Global Early Warnings for All Initiative, which he is leading at the request of UN Secretary-General António Guterres, should help solve this problem. Currently, this initiative mainly focuses on countries that suffered from floods or drought in the past year and for which reliable data is not available.
WMO once again calls on various actors to expand their systems and share their data. The organization said only about 15 countries submitted data for this year’s report, which nonetheless includes more than seven times the number of meteorological sites compared to last year.
“10% of the volume of Switzerland’s glaciers is now gone”: a new report reveals the impact of two years of disasters
A Belgian scientist also discovered a body on a melting glacier: “More than 300 bodies could still emerge” (+)
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