The Southern Alps in New Zealand filmed in The lord of the rings Is a ice region transformed by global warming.
A new study has found that these mountains have lost about 62% of their glaciers since the end of the Little Glaciation 400 years ago, equivalent to an area of 73 square kilometers.
In contrast, Patagonia, which is home to the largest body of ice in the southern hemisphere outside of Antarctica, has seen only 11% of its volume reduced for the same period of time.
The Southern Alps or New Zealand Alps is a mountain range that runs along the western side of the South Island of New Zealand.
They are known worldwide for being part of numerous scenes in the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film saga .
The highest point of the mountain range (and the country) is Mount Cook ( Aoraki / Mount Cook according to its official name in Maori and English), at 3754 meters.
There are sixteen other peaks in the mountain range that also exceed 3,000 meters in height.
The new study, carried out by the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom, analyzed three time periods: 1600 to 1978, 1978 to 2009, and 2009 to 2019.
The data were obtained using computer simulations, physical markers and historical records.
Comparison across decades revealed that ice loss has doubled since the Little Ice Age, with a marked decline over the past 40 years.
In fact, according to the report, more than 17% of the ice mass present 4 centuries ago was lost between 1978 and 2019; and only 12% remained in what was once the lower glacier region.
“These findings quantify a trend in ice loss in New Zealand,” says Dr Jonathan Carrivick, lead author of the study. “
And the acceleration in the rate of this melting will only get worse as the effects of climate change become more pronounced.”
‘Our results suggest that the Southern Alps have already passed their water reserve point.
Looking to the future, plans must be made to mitigate the local impact that the decrease in glacial water flowing into rivers, its availability, stability of the landscape and aquatic ecosystems will have ”, he concludes.
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