CANCUN, Mexico, May 13 (UPI) -- A study of snow and ice on Mount Everest shows the world's highest mountain peak is shedding its frozen cloak as glaciers retreat with warming, researchers say.
Glaciers on Mount Everest and the national park surrounding it have shrunk by 13 percent in the last 50 years and the snowline has shifted upward by 590 feet, Sudeep Thakuri, who is leading the research as part of his doctoral studies at the University of Milan in Italy, said.
The researchers, who are set to present their findings at a scientific conference in Cancun, Mexico, organized by the American Geophysical Union, said they suspect the decline of snow and ice in the Everest region is from human-generated greenhouse gases altering global climate.
The majority of the glaciers in the national park are retreating at an increasing rate, Thakuri said, which will have impacts far beyond the park's boundaries.
"The Himalayan glaciers and ice caps are considered a water tower for Asia since they store and supply water downstream during the dry season," he said in an AGU release Monday. "Downstream populations are dependent on the melt water for agriculture, drinking, and power production."