The edge of iceberg A74 that calved in February, revealing never-before-seen Antarctic seafloor for researchers to study. Credit: Alfred Wegener Institute / Tim Kalvelage

By 2050, Iconic World Heritage Glaciers Will Disappear

According to a recent report by UNESCO, a third of a total of fifty World Heritage Sites where glaciers are found will disappear by the year 2050. These include iconic glaciers like those at Kilimanjaro and Yellowstone.


By 2050, a third of the fifty UNESCO World Heritage Sites where glaciers are found are likely to disappear. These include iconic glaciers like those at Kilimanjaro and Yellowstone. As long as the temperature increase does not exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to the pre-industrial period, it will still be possible to save the other two-thirds. A UNESCO report published on November 3 highlighted this as a significant challenge for COP27. There are 50 UNESCO World Heritage Sites with glaciers (an estimated 18,600 glaciers are located in these 50 sites. They cover approximately 66,000 square kilometers), representing almost 10 percent of Earth’s glacierized surface.

58 billion tons of ice

The list includes the world’s highest glacier (next to Mt. Everest) and the longest glacier (in Alaska). It also includes the last remaining glaciers in Africa, among others. As a result of CO2 emissions, which are warming temperatures, these glaciers have been retreating at an accelerated rate since 2000. This is according to a new study published by UNESCO and IUCN. Every year, they lose 58 billion tons of ice. This is equivalent to France and Spain’s combined annual water use. The melting glaciers are responsible for nearly 5% of global sea-level rise. According to the report, at least a third of the 50 World Heritage sites will lose their glaciers by 2050, regardless of efforts to limit global warming.

Save some

However, if the temperature rise does not exceed 1.5°C compared to pre-industrial levels, it may still be possible to save glaciers in the remaining two-thirds. Aside from reducing carbon emissions, UNESCO advocates creating an international glacier monitoring and preservation fund. This way, comprehensive research would be supported, exchange networks would be promoted, measures would be implemented to reduce disaster risk, and early warning systems would be implemented. Half of humanity depends directly or indirectly on glaciers for domestic use, agriculture, and power. Furthermore, glaciers contribute to biodiversity by feeding a variety of ecosystems.


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Written by Ivan Petricevic

I've been writing passionately about ancient civilizations, history, alien life, and various other subjects for more than eight years. You may have seen me appear on Discovery Channel's What On Earth series, History Channel's Ancient Aliens, and Gaia's Ancient Civilizations among others.

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