British-Swiss study reveals more glacier-shielding rock debris

(MENAFN- Swissinfo) The amount of rock debris covering the world's glaciers is larger than previously thought – something that hasn't been considered in models of melting glaciers and rising sea levels.

This content was published on August 6, 2020 - 12:46 August 6, 2020 - 12:46 swissinfo.ch/dos

The study, run by Britain's Northumbria University and the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL), involved examining satellite imagery of every glacier in the world to manually verify the level of debris cover.

Three years and 923,000 square kilometres' worth later, the researchers found that some 29,000 square kilometres were covered by such debris – that's about 75% of the surface area of Switzerland.

'We now know that debris cover is present on almost half of Earth's glaciers, with 7.3% of the world's total mountain glacier area being covered,' lead researcher Sam Herreid stated in a media relase .

He also said that this information is important since previous models have omitted such debris cover from forecasts about how glaciers respond to changes in the climate.

Such debris forms when glaciers shrink and the eroded rock slides down the mountainsides to gather on the ice surface. There, it can form a thick protective layer, reducing the rate of melting.


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