Just a few months ago, Antarctica, the coldest and driest continent on Earth was reported to register a temperature of over 20 degrees Celsius for the first time. Global warming has caused ice sheets here to melt and glaciers to retreat.
Actually, no glaciers in the world nowadays can escape the fate of melting away. Neither can the Jianggendiru Glacier in northwest China's Qinghai Province.
Jianggendiru may be an odd and unfamiliar name, but its meltwater is used by people along the Yangtze River. The headwater of the Yangtze River, the Tuotuo River, originates from the Jianggendiru Glacier.
The glacier is made up of two parts. One in the north, the other in the south. Hundreds of years ago, the ends of the two parts were connected. Climate change has made glaciers retreat annually and pushed them away from each other, like an annoying parent who breaks up a couple in love.
According to research by Green River, an NGO founded in Sichuan Province, the total length of the glacier in the south has shortened by 750 meters between 1969 and 2012, while the length of the glacier in the north has shortened by 1,500 meters.
Some people may wonder why it is a bad thing if the melting glacier can supply the river with more water. In fact, the amount of river water can increase in the beginning. However, when it passes a certain threshold, the river flow will decrease to an extremely low level, causing a water shortage in regions dependent on glacier meltwater.
Besides, the melting glacier may cause decreasing plant diversity and degradation of grasslands, directly affecting the livelihoods of people living nearby. It's urgent to protect the Jianggendiru Glacier and the headwater region.
In 2005, the Sanjiangyuan National Nature Reserve came into operation. A report released in April this year shows that the area is seeing more rainfall and lakes are expanding, indicating an improved environment.
Hopefully, the Jianggendiru Glacier and many glaciers can slow down the pace of disappearing if more efforts are put into conservation.