Indonesia: Eternity Glaciers can vanish in years

In Indonesia, two of the world’s few tropical glaciers Eternity Glaciers are thawing, and the country’s geophysics agency has warned that an El Nio weather pattern threatens to accelerate their demise. The glaciers’ ice might vanish by 2026, or even sooner, if the danger is successful.

According to predictions made by an institution known as BMKG, the El Nio phenomena might cause Indonesia to have its driest season since 2019; this would significantly increase the likelihood of wildfires and put the availability of clean water at danger.

The Eternity Glaciers, which are located in the Jayawijaya mountains in the most eastern part of Papua and are thawing at an alarming rate, are another target of the El Nio phenomenon’s destructive potential.

According to Donaldi Permana, a climate researcher at the agency, “the glaciers might vanish before 2026 or even faster, and El Nio could accelerate the melting process.”

According to him, there was not much that could be done to stop the shrinking, and he predicted that the occurrence would, within a decade, produce a rise in the average level of seawater around the world. “At this point, we are in a position to document the disappearance of the glaciers,” Donaldi added. At the very least, we will be able to inform future generations that glaciers formerly covered this land.

There are only a few glaciers of this type surviving in the tropics, and those that are still there are under danger. A study that was conducted in 2021 & published in journal Global and Planetary Change tracked changes in the glaciers in Papua in addition to Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, the Andes in Peru and Bolivia, the Tibetan plateau, and the Himalayas. The study found that all of these glaciers were disappearing, with the loss of ice speeding up in recent years.

Glaciers found in the tropics are particularly susceptible to the effects of climate change; the only reason they have been able to survive is because they are located at high elevations. According to the findings of researchers, precipitation that used to come down in the form of snow is now more commonly falling as rain, which speeds up the process of ice melting.

According to Donaldi, the Eternity Glaciers have shrunk dramatically over the past several years, going from a depth of 32 meters in 2010 to a depth of 8 meters in 2021, and their overall breadth has decreased from 2.4 kilometers in 2000 to 230 meters in 2022. In 2022, the whole width is expected to be 230 meters.

Previous research conducted by Donaldi and researchers in the United States indicated that during the intense El Nio that occurred in 2015–2016, there was an intensification of ice loss near Puncak Jaya, also known as the Carstensz Pyramid, in Papua.

El Nio and global warming have already led to temperature records being broken globally over the past several months, with July being declared the hottest month on record by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

Indonesia is the leading exporter of coal in the world and has set a goal to achieve net zero emissions target by year 2060. More over half of the country’s electricity comes from power plants that burn coal. The previous year, it established the ambitious goal of 2030 to decrease emissions by 31.89% on its own, or by 43.2% with the cooperation of the international community.

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