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The melting of Mount Everest: By the numbers
Rising temperatures and declining snowfall are taking a heavy toll on Himalayan glaciers
The world's highest peak is not immune to the ravages of global warming.
The world's highest peak is not immune to the ravages of global warming. REUTERS/Desmond Boylan
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he authors of a new environmental study warn that the glaciers surrounding Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world, are receding at an alarming rate as temperatures rise and snowfall decreases. The team, led by researcher Sudeep Thakuri of Italy's University of Milan, used satellite imagery and topographic maps to piece together the glacial history of Everest and the surrounding 713-square-mile Sagarmatha National Park. Here's a look at the report the scientist compiled, by the numbers:

13
Percentage that the glaciers in the Everest region have shrunk in the last 50 years

590
Feet Everest's snowline has climbed, as lower parts of the mountain's frozen cap melt

437
Yards (400 meters) the average glacier around Everest has receded since 1962

1.08
Degrees Fahrenheit (0.6 Celsius) the average annual temperature has risen in the Everest region since 1992

3.9
Decrease, in inches, in annual precipitation during the pre-monsoon and winter months

43
Percentage decrease in the size of the region's smallest glaciers — less than a square kilometer, or about 247 acres — since the 1960s

17
Percentage increase in areas where the ice and snow are melting faster than they can be replaced, revealing rocks and other debris that had been hidden for ages

1.5 billion
People who depend on the melting glaciers for their water supply. "The Himalayan glaciers and ice caps are considered a water tower for Asia since they store and supply water downstream during the dry season," said Thakuri, who presented the findings at a conference in Cancun this week. "Downstream populations are dependent on the melt water for agriculture, drinking, and power production."

29,029
Height, in feet, of Everest, which is known to some as the "roof of the world"

0
Days each year when temperatures rise above freezing at or near Everest's peak. That means the climb to Everest is unlikely to get any easier any time soon.

Sources: Los Angeles Times, Nature World News, UPI

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami HeraldFox News, and ABC News.

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