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Climate Change and Glaciers

             Climate change is defined by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change as "a change of climate that is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and that is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods." Climate change is caused by the effects of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide) produced mainly from the burning of coal, petrol and oil. These gases gather in the atmosphere, thickening it and consequently the sun's rays, which normally bounce back into space, are being trapped in our atmosphere causing the earth to heat up. This process is shown in figure 1. .
             In New Zealand some impacts of climate change are higher temperatures over the whole of New Zealand but more in the North Island than the South, rising sea levels from the melting of large ice masses around the world, more frequent extreme weather events such as droughts and floods and a change in rainfall patterns - higher rainfall in the west and less in the east.
             Glaciers are a thick bodies of ice formed by snow compressing. These layers become so heavy that they are constantly moving under their own weight, and are more like a river of ice. Glaciers are formed by compression of years of snowfall. Glacial ice appears blue because all of the air is forced out of the ice. Glaciers are found at the North and South poles, and at high altitudes such as mountain ranges. In this essay I will discuss the effects of climate change on glaciers and how these will impact on people and the environment. I will focus on the effects of climate change on glaciers in three locations; The Himalayan mountain ranges and the Tasman and Franz Josef glaciers in the Southern Alps of New Zealand.
             The Himalayan mountains are home to the second largest body of ice in the world and these glaciers are extremely important to the lives of many people, animals and ecosystems.

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