While the world is drifting towards disaster every day due to global warming, scientists have announced that the number of rivers lost due to the melting of glaciers is increasing. In the so-called “river piracy”, streams fed by glaciers lose their flow and disappear completely after a while. The researchers explained that because of this situation, the ecosystems around the rivers flowing especially in the higher parts of the world and the communities that earn their livelihood through agriculture are in danger.
As glaciers around the world are melting rapidly due to global warming, some communities around the world have faced a rather serious problem: the sudden disappearance of their rivers.
The so-called “river piracy” means that the water flowing from a river is diverted to other lands or disappears completely due to the melting of the glaciers. The first river piracy incident occurred in 2016 following the melting of the Kaskawulsh glacier in the Canadian province of Yukon. The Slims river, fed by the melting waters of the glacier, lost its water completely since last spring.
Scientists have explained that as the world moves towards a world with much less glaciers, the land that has been constantly covered with ice for centuries will become ice-free, thus destroying rivers in mountainous regions.
“Glaciers around the world are retreating. We certainly know that this retreat is now due to climate change,” said Dan Shugar, a geologist at the University of Calgary in Canada.
Shugar was among the scientists who documented the first known case of river piracy in modern times in Canada’s Yukon Territory in 2016. Subsequently, Canada’s largest glacier melted so quickly that the event changed the direction of a great river, significantly lowering the water level of a lake it fed.
For hundreds of years, the Slims River carried north melting water from the great Kaskawulsh glacier to the Kluane River and then to the Yukon River, the Bering Sea. But in the spring of 2016, with the intense melting of the glacier, the Sims River permanently diverted its water to a steeper slope eastward across the Kaskawulsh River towards the Gulf of Alaska, thousands of kilometers from its original destination.
Now, scientists have turned their attention to Alaska. National Park Service geologist Michael Loso said a mighty river fed by a rapidly retreating glacier inside Glacier Bay National Park is expected to divert and this will damage the environmental ecosystem. The 350-meter-thick Grand Plateau glacier in southern Alaska has long acted as a barrier for the Alsek River. Over the next thirty years, however, Loso and his colleagues calculated that the Alsek River, which passes through the glacier-fed Dry Bay region, shifts up to 10 meters southeast each year.