Report: Tibetan Glaciers Have Warmed Up in the Last 50 Years

Aug 15, 2014 05:28 PM EDT | Jordan Ecarma

Chinese scientists have reportedly found that the vital glaciers in the Tibetan plateau were warmer during the past 50 years than in any period from the last two millennia.

Their report, which was published by the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research and then cited in a Chinese newspaper, said that rising temperatures and humidity through the rest of the century will likely result in retreating glaciers, according to Reuters.  

The scientists are pushing for government legislation that will protect the region's environment.

"Over the past 50 years, the rate of temperature rise has been double the average global level," said the study, as quoted by a state-run newspaper's website.

The Tibetan plateau holds glaciers that bring water to hundreds of millions of people in Asia, and retreating glaciers may disrupt water supply to vital rivers such as the Yellow and Yangtze in China and the Brahmaputra in India.

The glaciers have shrunk 15 percent, or about 3,100 square miles, during the last 30 years, Chinese scientists said in May.

Despite urgings from scientists, both China and India have planned large construction projects for the near future. Beijing is building a series of large hydropower projects in the region and expects to start construction on several mega-dams by 2020, while India has new hydro plants in the works to be built by the Brahmaputra river that will boost the country's electricity generation.

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