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Climate: New Pictures Of Disappearing Glaciers

Climate Change: New Pictures Of Disappearing Glaciers

Buenos Aires, 10 February 2004: New visual evidence of the impacts of climate change was released by Greenpeace in Patagonia today. Dramatic new photos of Patagonian glaciers taken by the research team on board the Greenpeace vessel Arctic Sunrise show the extent to which climate change has caused the ice to melt this century, when compared to photos of the same glaciers taken in 1928.

“Rising temperatures are causing glaciers to melt all over the world. In Patagonia, they are disappearing at a rate of 42 cubic kilometres every year – faster than anywhere else on Earth”, said Greenpeace campaigner Vanessa Atkinson. “New Zealand glaciers are also in an overall pattern of retreat. Climate change is the trigger and the reason behind the speed at which glaciers are retreating.”

Greenpeace has been touring Patagonia and Chile for 4 weeks. The research team's findings confirm that a number of large glaciers, such as the San Quintin and Upsala glaciers, part of the Northern and Southern Patagonian ice-fields, have significantly thinned and have retreated several kilometres in recent years.

>From 1995 through 2000 the rate of ice loss from the Patagonian ice fields has more than doubled, to an equivalent sea level rise of 0.1 mm (0.004 inches) per year. The sheer volume of melt water from glaciers is causing the sea levels to rise (1), increasing the risk of flooding in many of the world's coastal areas. It is also starting to cause problems for people who depend on the glaciers for their fresh water supply. This may cause enormous problems in the future given that a third of the world's population – 2 billion people – rely on rivers fed by Himalayan glaciers alone.

"Climate change is a global problem - not only do we risk losing the world's glaciers but we are already witnessing increased frequency and severity of floods (2) and droughts, loss of coral reefs, sea level rise and a rapid spread of diseases such as malaria," added Atkinson.

"Clean renewable energy is key to addressing climate change,” concluded Atkinson.

Renewable energy technologies and industries are poised on the brink of a revolution all they need is political support. World leaders are being invited for the first time to attend an international renewables conference, to be held in Bonn (June 1 to 4, 2004 ).

Greenpeace is calling on Helen Clark to attend to this conference and for world leaders to adopt firm commitments to provide a minimum to 20 % of global power from clean sources by 2020.



Notes to Editors 1. Contribution of the Patagonia Icefields of South America to Sea Level Rise by Eric Rignot, Andrés Rivera and Gino Casassa, Science 2003 October 17; 302: 434-437. (in Reports) 2. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

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