The 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:
Percentage that the glaciers in the Everest region have shrunk in the last 50 years
Feet Everest's snowline has climbed, as lower parts of the mountain's frozen cap melt
Yards (400 meters) the average glacier around Everest has receded since 1962
Degrees Fahrenheit (0.6 Celsius) the average annual temperature has risen in the Everest region since 1992
Decrease, in inches, in annual precipitation during the pre-monsoon and winter months
Percentage decrease in the size of the region's smallest glaciers — less than a square kilometer, or about 247 acres — since the 1960s
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
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."
Height, in feet, of Everest, which is known to some as the "roof of the world"
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.
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