The shrinking of Glacier No 1 in China is severely threatening oases in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, scientists have warned. Glacier No 1, which lies at the headwaters of the Urumqi River in the Tianshan Mountains, has shrunk by close to 14 percent in the past four decades, an unpublished survey conducted by the Chinese Academy of Sciences' (CAS) arid regions environment and engineering research institute revealed.
"Because of the continuous rise in temperature globally and in the western part of the country, the trend of glaciers retreating on a large scale will be irreversible," the China Daily quoted the report, as stating.
According to the CAS, though the shrinking of glaciers may increase glacial water in the rivers in the short term, but this water will eventually diminish, and it may be followed by drought.
The CAS report said that glaciers in the western part of China have shrunk by 4.5 percent in four decades. Glacier No 1 alone retreated by 80 meters between 1962 and 1980, and a further 60 meters between 1980 and 1992.
The glacier has been retreating by up to six meter every year since 1993, CAS academician Qin Dahe said.
According to the daily, photograph captured on September 20 shows an unidentified man walking past a group of glaciers in Bomi County, Southwest China's Tibet. A group of 42 glaciers were found in the country with an average altitude of 4,200 meters above sea level in the southeast of the region. It could be the biggest glacier group on the Qinghai-Tibet plateau. The glacier now covers 1.68 sq km.
Glaciers feed 25.4 percent of Xinjiang's rivers, 8.6 percent of the Tibet Autonomous Region's rivers and 3.6 percent of Gansu's rivers. China ranks fourth in the world in terms of both area and ice volume of glaciers, after Canada, the United States and Russia. Its glaciers cover 59,406 square kilometres and have a total ice volume of 5,590 cubic kilometres.