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EUR: Swiss scientists say world's glaciers melting fast

29 Jan 2009 11:58 PM

ZURICH, Switzerland, Jan 29 AP - The world's glaciers thinned by an average of almost 74 centimetres in 2007, indicating that they are melting twice as fast this decade as during the 1980s and 1990s, Swiss scientists said on Thursday.

The World Glacier Monitoring Service in Zurich regularly measures 80 glaciers around the globe.

It found that some Alpine glaciers lost as much as three metres of ice cover, while coastal glaciers in Norway actually thickened in 2007.

The rate of decline was less than in 2006, according to Michael Zemp, one of the scientists involved.

But 2007 was the sixth year this decade that the glaciers lost on average more than 50cm thickness.

"This means that the rate of melting during the 1980s and 1990s has more than doubled," Zemp said.

The 30 glaciers that have been measured the longest have thinned by an average of 12 metres since 1980, he said.

Glacial thickness is directly influenced by the weather during the previous year, while glacier length is considered by scientists to be an indication of long-term climate trends.

On the net:

WGMS: http://www.geo.unizh.ch/wgms/