Points of extreme elevation are useful tools for scientists to study the effects of global warming on the Earth. Meili Snow Mountain's Mingyong glacier - which has receded by 40 meters in the last 13 years - not only demonstrates the existence of global warming but also the threat it poses to humanity, according to Liu Jiaxun, deputy director of Diqing Prefecture's Meteorological Bureau who has been researching northwest Yunnan's major peaks.
Located near northwest Yunnan's border with Tibet, Meili Snow Mountain (梅里雪山) is the highest mountain in Yunnan and is considered one of China's - and the world's - most spectacular mountains. The snow-capped mountain is also known as Kawagebo to Tibetan Buddhists, for whom it is one of eight sacred mountains.
Towering above everything else in sight at 6,740 meters (22,240 feet) above sea level, Mt Meili will be completely snowless within 80 years if current global warming rates persist, according to Liu. The researcher came to his conclusion after monitoring Mt Meili and other nearby mountains including Haba Snow Mountain and Baima Snow Mountain for ten years.
Mt Meili's Mingyong glacier is China's lowest and southernmost glacier at 2,700 meters above sea level and 28.5 degrees north of the equator. Liu told China's Xinhua News Agency that Mingyong's melting would create two kinds of crises for people living downstream from the glacier. As the rate of melting increased, farms and settlements would be damaged by flooding and mudslides/rockslides. After melting, the disappearance of the glacier would cause rivers to shrink dramatically and drought would ensue.
Liu said the area's average temperature rose from 4.8 degrees Celsius to 5.2 degrees Celsius from 1990 to 2006.
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