The glaciers of Everest, considered the highest mountain in the world, are melting at a much faster rate than ever before: this is what an article published in Live Science suggests, citing declassified photos taken by spy satellites.
These are images taken over several decades through which it is possible to see and calculate the melting of the ice even in the long term. It is these images that show that, from 1962 to 2018, the glaciers on the sides of the mountain were “significantly” reduced. Among other things, the topic was also the subject of a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union.
These are more than 800,000 photos taken by the C.I.A. in the context of the Cold War, later declassified in 1995. Among the various regions of the world photographed by satellites, there is also that of the Himalayas. The researchers analyzed these photos and compared them with other (unclassified) satellite photos of the following years or images taken by airplanes and calculated the loss relative to the mass of ice from the 60s until today.
The comparison is merciless: the glaciers seem to retreat in a visible way and then expose the underlying rock, something that is well calculable from above. The first significant signs of ice reduction began in the 1960s: since 1962 the rate of glacier loss has been about 20 cm per year.
Over the last few decades, moreover, the same ice loss seems to have accelerated, an acceleration that would have started in the early 1980s. Among the various damages that could be caused by the loss of ice on Everest is that related to the freshwater supply in the surrounding region.