A new study has revealed that global climate change will have long-term effects on the freezing of rivers worldwide. It said annual river ice cover will decline in many parts of the world gradually. This will be due to the gradual heating of the Earth’s surface. The new study was conducted by the University of North Carolina. Researchers noted the annual river ice cover will be reduced by at least six days for every one degree Celsius increase in the temperature. The findings were published in the journal Nature. It said the decline in river ice cover will have both environmental and economic consequences.
As a part of cycles of nature, more than half of rivers present on Earth freeze over every year. This process is vital in balancing the natural cycles in the Earth’s climate. Also, it supports important transportation for industries and communities situated at high latitudes. Besides, it is helpful in regulating the amount of greenhouse gasses released from rivers into Earth’s atmosphere. Researchers said they studied more than 400,000 satellite images taken over a period of three decades. They measured which rivers freeze seasonally across the world. They observed about 56 percent of all large rivers freeze every year. Researchers said they observed a widespread decline in the process. The decline in river ice coverage was not limited to a particular region. Rivers worldwide experienced declines in monthly ice coverage.
The study said the greatest declines were spotted in the Tibetan Plateau, Alaska, and eastern Europe. Researchers said the noticed a change in the pattern of rivers freezing. They compared images clicked between 2008 and 2018 with those taken between 1984 and 1994. Researchers said they found a monthly global decline of 0.3 to 4.3 percent. For the future, the team said the Northern Hemisphere could see a 9 to 15 percent decline in summer and 12 to 68 percent in spring. They said the declining pattern in the freezing of rivers be attributed to global warming and pressed for immediate measures to check this.