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Franz Josef Highlighted As Global Warming Casualty

New Zealand Greenpeace news release
New Zealand glacier highlighted as global warming casualty

New Zealand glacier highlighted as global warming casualty

Svalbard, Arctic Circle/Auckland 8 August 2002: New Zealand’s Franz Josef glacier is one of six glaciers worldwide highlighted as showing signs of retreat from climate change, Greenpeace revealed today.

The images of archival and contemporary photographs showing glacial retreat in USA, Peru, Nepal, Austria, Uganda, New Zealand and Svalbard (Norway) in the Arctic were released aboard the Rainbow Warrior undertaking a research tour focusing on Arctic glaciers.

“The Franz Josef is showing signs of being a casualty of climate change. Warmer temperatures and altered snow and rain patterns from climate change are resulting in the retreat of glaciers the world over,” said Robbie Kelman, Greenpeace New Zealand climate campaigner.

“Increased temperatures brought about by greenhouse polluting gases like methane and the burning of fossil fuels, coal, oil and gas, are destroying glaciers. Unless we break our addiction to fossil fuels, we risk the wholesale destruction of glaciers."

In New Zealand, the Franz Josef glacier, has retreated approximately one and half kilometres since records were kept. Maori call the Franz Josef, Ka Roimato O Hine Hukatere or Frozen Tears of the Ice Maiden.

The Rainbow Warrior conducted the documentation journey to the Arctic glaciers of Svalbard with Professor Jon Ove Hagen from the University of Oslo, and was assisted in its documentation by the Norwegian Polar Institute.

"The glacier retreats we have seen in Kongsfjorden are due to climatic changes over the last century," said Professor Ove Hagen.

"If global warming continues as the climate models predict, we can expect an accelerated retreat of these glaciers in the future, as we have already seen happening in Alaska and other places across the rest of the world."

"Climate change is a global problem - not only do we risk losing the world's glaciers but we face many other impacts such as increased floods, droughts and storms, loss of coral reefs, sea-level rise and rapid spread of insect-borne diseases," said Kelman.

Greenpeace is campaigning at the Johannesburg Earth Summit for governments to make a commitment to provide clean and affordable renewable energy to the two billion people around the world who currently live without electricity, and is demanding governments ensure that 10% of all electricity supply by 2010 is provided from green, renewable sources.

For more information:

Robbie Kelman, Climate Campaigner, Greenpeace, 021 565165 Jim Salinger, Senior Climate Scientist, NIWA, 09 3752090

For media images of Franz Josef glacier

See the comparative photos of glaciers globally at

Vision and photographs of Svalbard glaciers are available on request. Contact Jon Novis on +31 6 53819121 for photographs, and Mim Lowe for video on +31 20 524 9543 or + 31 6 535 04721

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