November 9, 2010
Climate Change: Water Reservoir Glacier
Climatologists demand a differentiated discussion
Glaciers of large mountain regions contribute, to some extent considerably, to the water supply of certain populated areas. However, in a recent study conducted by Innsbruck glaciologists and climatologists it has been shown that there are important regional differences. The results of the study are published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
The incentive of the study was the widespread discussion about the impact of climate change on water availability in highly populated regions. "In the last few years numbers have been named that do not pass a closer examination," says glaciologist and climatologist Georg Kaser. "It is an exaggeration when it is claimed that the melting of glaciers endangers the water supply of 2 billion people." With their study the Innsbruck scientists want to draw attention to the considerable regional differences regarding the problem of future water supply. "By all means, the expected climatic development may have detrimental effects for smaller high-mountain communities."
The data for the study was obtained from the World Glacier Inventory, global temperature and precipitation data and the Global Digital Elevation Model. The researchers investigated the whole river basin region of certain glaciers in the Himalayas, the Andes, the Caucasus Mountains, Siberia, North America and New Zealand. "In principle, this is a simple research approach, which, nevertheless, provides us with important arguments for a more differentiated discussion in climate research," says Georg Kaser, who is pleased about the results of the study, which has been published in the renowned scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). "With regard to the next report issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), our data can be seen as the basis for regionally more precise estimations and they show that the impact of the expected climate change may be higher in some regions than in others," says Kaiser.
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