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Glacial lake: less-known climate phenomenon that threatens

As the planet heats and glaciers start to melt, the increasing risk of a natural hazard lurks silently in the mountain tops.

They seem to strike rapidly, with unnoticeable or no warning. They move swiftly into valleys and stretch far, seldom hitting inhabited areas hundreds of kilometers from where they began.

Glacial lake outburst floods in the world’s highest mountains pose a threat to a growing number of people.

Glaciers seem to be extremely sensitive to climate change. As hot air can melt ice and push glaciers into retreat, enormous new lakes appear in high mountains. These form often dangerous pockets in mountain ranges.

Overview

This year, the scientific journal Nature published an article that found the speed of melting the world’s glaciers has nearly doubled over the last 20 years period. Mainly, glacial melt now contributes to increasing sea levels than the Antarctic ice sheets or Greenland. This month, with a critically crucial diplomatic summit known as COP26, the world’s leading climate experts and scientists have warned that this threat will only intensify without urgent, fast, and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

The beauty and danger of glaciers are not lost when studying ice masses. Experts remark on how glaciers can show the past and expose the future.

The professor of physical geography at the U.K.’s Staffordshire University, Fiona Tweed, told CNBC that the first time going to a glacier and stepping on it is mysterious. She said that while standing on it, sometimes it makes creaking and groaning noises as if it is alive because it can move.

Fiona Tweed also talked about her other experience with Glaciers. She said that when she was in Iceland years ago for fieldwork, she managed to access an area between the bedrock and the glacier. She went on to lie down on her back, and put her hands on the glacier above her. This way, she could feel it move at a snail’s pace, which was utterly awe-inspiring for her. She also said that despite her not being a religious person, it was like a spiritual experience getting closer to a glacier for the first time. Matthias Huss is the director of the Swiss glacier monitoring lamos. He stated on CNBC that he is impressed as a scientist to see how fast these changes are going on. He added that it also makes him sad as a person to see these glaciers going.

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