Melting Glaciers Dangers.
Melting Glaciers Dangers Are Serious
Melting glaciers dangers can be divided into two general types. One danger is flooding.
The other is drought. People who have lived near glaciers for years or even centuries
have found them to be a reliable source of water for drinking and farming. As Glaciers
suddenly begin to melt more rapidly land that was once safe and habitable is
threatened by floods.
It's natural for lakes to form at the ends of glaciers. The glacier creates a wall,
called a moraine, of rock and dirt that retains the water that melts from the glacier.
The problem occurs when the glacier begins melting more rapidly and more water is
released. The excess water will build up eventually overflowing the wall. Water
overflowing the wall will result in erosion, eventually destroying the wall. The
result is similar to what happens when any dam bursts and large amounts of water
are released suddenly.
Such flooding has taken place in many parts of the world. Of particular significance
is flooding that has resulted from the melting of the glaciers in the Himalaya Mountains.
Many of the world's major rivers have their source in the Himalayan glaciers. These
important rivers include the Ganges, Indus, Brahmapu Yangtze, Mekong, Irrawaddy River,
Amu Darya, Yellow River and others.
The drainage basin of all the rivers that flow out of the Himalayas is occupied by
about 3 billion people or nearly half of the population of the earth. The countries
encompassed in this area includes the People's Republic of China, Afghanistan, India,
Bangladesh, Bhutan, Pakistan, Nepal, Burma, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan,
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and Malaysia.
Glacial flooding results in the loss of habitat for animals as well as loss of
habitable land for humans. In some cases entire villages have to be relocated.
This form of adaptation works as long as there are places to relocate to. It is
easy to imagine severe competition for land resulting if large populations begin
relocating all at once.
Although it is generally treated as a separate problem large amounts of glacial
melt eventually result in rising sea levels. Many people do not find the thought
of the ocean rising a few inches very frightening. However it is already a real
problem to people living on low lying islands. The island nation of Maldives, for
example, is the lowest country in the world. The highest natural elevation is only
seven feet seven inches (2.3 meters) above sea level. The average altitude is about
four feet eleven inches (1.5 meters). A rise in sea level of just a few inches could
threaten the existence of the entire nation.
In 2008, President Mohamed Nasheed announced that plans were being made to seek out
land to purchase in India, Sri Lanka, and Australia. Neither he nor any of the other
citizens wish to leave Maldives. However he said that concerns about global warming
and the possibility of much of the islands being inundated when sea levels rise further
has made such planning necessary.
Apart from the damage done by floods and the competition for usable land that results
when entire populations have to relocate melting glaciers present another danger. About
69 per cent of the earth's fresh water is stored in glaciers and ice caps. Meltwater from
glaciers is the only source of fresh water available to large populations of the planet.
When glaciers no longer provide water for millions of people drought on an unprecedented
scale is predicted.