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Global Warming Threatens Tibet

A group of scientists, organized by World Wildlife Fund (WWF), has expressed fears about global warming having a debilitating impact on Tibet in the near future .

According to them, the Tibet faces the possibility of shrinking glaciers, frozen earth melting, grasslands turning yellow and rivers drying up.

The scientists came to their conclusions after exploring the source of the Yangtze River on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.

"The glaciers at the source of the Yangtze River are shrinking much faster than we had anticipated," The China Daily quoted Li Yajie, a scientist with the Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology, as saying.

Yajie visited the area in the 1980s and the 1990s, and says that his recent visit, confirms the alarming climatic deterioration of the area.

"There are four stages in the disappearance of a glacier. Sadly, this glacier is already in the last stage," Li said.

The Qinghai-Tibet Plateau used to boast 36,000 glaciers with an area of 50,000 sq km which feed several of the major rivers in China and Southeast Asia. In the past 100 years, the area of these glaciers has shrunk by 30 percent, the scientists claimed.

Scientists say that if the temperature at the end of this century is 2.1 to 4 degrees Celsius higher than now -- a reasonable hypothesis given global warming trends -- this figure will increase to almost half.

According to the data collected, the whole of the Tanggula Range of mountains is suffering higher temperatures, lower rainfall and greater vaporization losses, an overall trend towards drier weather.

The melting of the frozen earth beneath the surface is the cause of 80 percent of the damage to the road on the Plateau. As the icy core of the earth melts, the road subsides.

Over the past 40 years, water losses due to global warming and vaporization have reduced water volume in the earth in th is region and the grassland is drying out.

According to Li and his colleagues, 15 percent of rich grassland and one fourth of wetland at high altitude have vanished in the past 15 years.

The scientists have called for more support for ecological research on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.

They said that a foundation to attract public donations and help fund the research should be set up.


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