The glaciers of the Caucasus decreased by 16% over 30 years. The reason for this was global warming, according to a study by scientists from the Higher School of Economics, which is published in the journal Cryosphere.
Over the past 55 years – from 1961 to 2016 – glaciers around the world lost more than 9 trillion tons of ice. The most serious blow fell on Alaska – the region lost 3 trillion tons of ice. In second place is Greenland (1.237 trillion tons), followed by the Andes (1.208 trillion tons). The Arctic regions of Russia and Canada during the same period lost more than 1 trillion tons of ice each.
The study was based on the analysis of Landsat and SPOT satellite images taken in 1986, 2000 and 2014. Based on them, scientists found that glaciers of the Greater Caucasus Mountain Range lose about 0.5% of ice per year – a rather significant loss compared to the beginning of the 20th century.
Over the course of about three decades, the area has decreased from 692 km2 to 590 km2 – that is, by 30%. According to scientists, this trend can be dangerous: a decrease in the area of glaciers leads to instability of the slopes, which, in turn, leads to an increase in the number of landslides and rockfalls.
“In the Caucasus, melting glaciers do not affect water supply as much as in the tropical Andes or Central Asia, where melt water from glaciers is an important resource. Here, rain and snowfall have a greater influence on the provision of water. However, the water balance is changing – along with the minima and maxima of the floods”.
Stanislav Kutuzov, lead author of the study