Glaciers vanishing from the summit of dormant volcano in Mexico

February 15, 2011AMECAMECA, Mexico — Glaciers that crown a Mexican volcano could disappear by 2015 with scientists pointing to global warming as a chief cause of their demise. Until recently, the glacial field on Iztaccihuatl, a dormant volcano and one of two white-capped peaks that can be seen from Mexico City, was expected to be gone within a few decades. But studies show rising world temperatures are melting the glaciers faster than previously thought, said Hugo Delgado, a glaciologist at Mexico City’s UNAM university who thinks the massive blocks of ice will be gone within four years. “What we’ve seen at Iztaccihuatl is an intense period of glacial retreat in the last few years, which has changed the picture,” Delgado said. Iztaccihuatl has one of two glacial fields left in Mexico, which are among the world’s few tropical glaciers. Glaciers are massive, slow-moving rivers of ice, and in the tropics they can only exist on the cold peaks of tall mountains. Most tropical glaciers, like those in Mexico, are much smaller than their cousins closer to the poles. Glacial melt in the tropics could hit farmers and cities across Latin America by reducing water availability and hydropower generation. –MSNBC
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