Glacial Retreat

Glaciers today are retreating worldwide, not only in the polar regions, but also in the mid-latitude mountain ranges such as the Rocky Moun tains, Himalayas, Alps, Andes, Cascades, and Mount Kilimanjaro. They are retreating faster than what can be explained by historical rates. Because this glacial retreat became more pronounced after 1850, it is more likely correlated to anthropogenic (human-caused) actions. With the further progression of the industrial revolution, extensive use of fossil fuels, and practices such as deforestation and certain farming techniques, the atmospheric temperature has steadily risen. Because glaciers are so delicately balanced, the effects of these warming temperatures are being seen first hand by their response.

When a glacier reaches the point where snow accumulation is less than ablation (loss of ice), the glacier cannot maintain its mass balance and will begin to retreat. Climate change and global warming can affect this both in terms of temperature and snowfall. Unfortunately, today there are very few advancing glaciers left on Earth. The following passages discuss glacial conditions in various geographic regions.

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