JAKARTA: Indonesia’s little-known glaciers are melting so fast they could disappear in a decade, a new study says, underscoring the imminent threat posed by climate change to ice sheets in tropical countries.

As the COP 25 summit wraps up in Madrid, nations are struggling to finalise rules for the 2015 landmark Paris climate accord, which aims to limit global temperature rises.

Thousands of kilometres away, glaciers on a mountain range in Indonesia’s Papua region — and a handful of others in Africa and the Peruvian Andes — are an early warning of what could be in store if they fail.

“Because of the relatively low elevation of the (Papua) glaciers... these will be the first to go,” said Lonnie Thompson, one of the authors of the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week. “They are the ‘canaries in the coal mine’”.

This summer, Iceland mourned the passing of Okjokull, its first glacier lost to climate change, amid warnings that some 400 others on the subarctic island risk the same fate.

Meanwhile, a team of researchers in Switzerland warned that unchecked greenhouse gas emissions could see more than 90-percent of glaciers in the Alps disappear by the end of the century.

Accelerating melt-off from glaciers and especially ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are driving sea level rises, threatening coastal megacities and small island nations. Glaciers are also a key water source for tens of millions of people.

While they’re usually associated with colder-weather countries, the glaciers in Papua, an Indonesian region on the western half of New Guinea island, are a key marker of the impact of rising global temperatures, researchers said.

Published in Dawn, December 14th, 2019

Opinion

Back to governance

Back to governance

While PDM has continued efforts to mount political pressure, it has been unable to force a crisis to challenge the PTI government.
Inequality virus
25 Jan 2021

Inequality virus

An Oxfam report calls for radical changes to the economic system.

Editorial

Updated 25 Jan 2021

Where the buck stops

The rights to due process and security of person are accorded to every individual in this country.
25 Jan 2021

PPP’s plan?

THE PDM faces a fresh crisis as the PPP takes a conspicuously soft position on the long march. While the PDM talks ...
25 Jan 2021

Forward guidance

THE State Bank has taken the unusual step of issuing a forward guidance in its latest monetary policy statement to...
Updated 24 Jan 2021

Delayed olive branch

THE PTI government has finally mustered up sufficient political prudence to extend an olive branch to the opposition...
24 Jan 2021

Bureaucracy reform

WHILE the intention behind the endeavour may be lauded, the civil service reform package unveiled by the government...
24 Jan 2021

Minority rights

ON Thursday, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution to safeguard religious sites around the world,...