Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Fate of Mountain Glaciers in the Anthropocene, A Report by the Working Group Commissioned by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences

Photo credit: Flickr, Iban , Receding Hellstugu glacier

Pontifical Academy of Sciences, April 2011

This is a short report, just seventeen pages, from a body whose existence many did not suspect: the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. The Working Group reviewed the scientific evidence on one particular piece of the global warming problem, the effect on mountain glaciers. Mountain glaciers are important because seasonal melt-off is an important source of water for communities downslope from those glaciers. The short-term effect of increased melting and the retreat of the glaciers from their former extent is more water downstream. The longer-term effect, unfortunately, is the loss of the water sources these communities rely on. The potential for suffering and disruption is high.

What to do? The Working Group argues that we need to take global warming, and human involvement in it, seriously, and immediately commit to serious, effective actions to limit the total temperature rise to no more than 2 degrees Celsius. In addition, they argue that we need to begin working on methods of mitigation and adaption to cope with the climate change effects that can't be avoided.

This paper lays out concisely and clearly why human-caused climate change is important, how urgently we need to act, and in what ways.

Highly recommended.

It is available for free download in pdf format here: