Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Mountaineers to celebrate Mount Everest’s 70th anniversary amid melting glaciers and rising temperatures

KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) – As the mountaineering community prepares to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the conquest of Mount Everest, worries about rising temperatures, melting glaciers and snow, and harsher and more unpredictable weather on the world’s highest mountain Increasing.

The Sherpa community, which grew up at the foot of the snow-capped mountain, which they worship as the mother of the world, is most perplexed.

“The effects of climate change are not only killing the fish, whales or penguins in Antarctica, but it is having a direct impact on the Himalayan mountains and the people there,” said Aung Tshering, a leading Sherpa who has been campaigning for years To save the Himalayan peaks and surrounding areas from the effects of global warming.

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Almost every year, he and his Asian trekking agency organize a clean-up drive in which clients and guides alike bring down trash left behind by previous Everest climbing parties.

Aung Tshering said that the effects of climate change and global warming have been severe in the high Himalayan region. “The rising temperature of the Himalayan region is higher than the global average, so snow and ice are melting faster and mountains are turning black, glaciers are melting and lakes are drying up.”

Aung Tshering, who grew up at the foot of the mountain, said he remembers slipping on a glacier near his village. But he is gone now.

Other Sherpas also said they had seen changes in the Khumbu Glacier at the foot of Everest near Base Camp.

“We don’t really need to wait for the future; We are already seeing the effects,” said Phurba Tenzing, a Sherpa guide who recently climbed the peak for the 16th time taking foreign clients to the summit.

Phurba Tenzing has been climbing Everest since the age of 17. He said that both snow and ice have melted and the trek which used to take five or six hours on the icy road now takes only half an hour as the glaciers have melted and the bare rocks are exposed.

“Earlier, blocks of ice like the building of the Khumbu Glacier used to come up to the base camp. But now we don’t see it near base camp,” said Phurba Tenzing.

Recent research found that Mount Everest’s glaciers have lost 2,000 years of ice in the past 30 years.

The researchers found that the thickness of South Col Glacier, the highest glacier on the mountain, has decreased by more than 54 meters (177 ft) over the past 25 years. The glacier sits about 7,900 m (26,000 ft) above sea level and was found to be thinning 80 times faster than it first took for ice to form at the surface.

Duncan Quincy, a glaciologist at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom, said glaciers are losing ice at a rate that has no historical precedent.

He said change is happening “very fast”. “This is creating challenges for everyone within that region, and certainly for the millions of people who are living downstream,” since much of southern Asia receives water from the Himalayas for agriculture and drinking water. depends on the rivers.

“There is now a great amount of unpredictability within these systems, and it becomes very difficult for people who need water at a particular time of year to know when they will have that water available,” he said. ”

Nepal’s government and the mountaineering community are planning to celebrate Everest Day on May 29 with a parade around Kathmandu and a ceremony honoring climbers and experienced Sherpa guides.

Associated Press climate writer Sibi Arasu in Bengaluru, India contributed to this report.

Associated Press climate and environment coverage is supported by a number of private foundations. See more about AP’s climate initiative. AP is solely responsible for all content.

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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