Wellington: New Zealand’s renowned glaciers in the Southern Alps will shrink up to 60 percent by the end of the century as the earth’s climate continues to warm, scientists forecast Monday.

Historic records showed Franz Josef Glacier, a popular draw for tourists, retreated three km in the last century and mathematical modelling indicated that it was likely to retreat even more this century, according to research by Victoria University’s Antarctic Research Centre, reports Xinhua.

Other glaciers in the region, including the Fox Glacier, were declining at similar rates as a result of climatic change, said Brian Anderson, senior research fellow from Antarctic Research Centre.

“In 12 years, we have been carrying out this study and have seen them rapidly retreat and then rapidly advance. It’s not until we look back over the past century that we see an overall pattern of retreat emerging,” said Anderson.

“Looking ahead, we are likely to see warmer and wetter weather, which means Franz Josef and Fox glaciers will retreat a lot and our best estimate is that they will be seven or eight km shorter than present by 2100,” Anderson added.

The data gathered is contributing to the University of Zurich’s World Glacier Monitoring Service.

“Already we are seeing issues at Franz Josef Glacier, where walking access has not been possible for more than a year, and tourists are now being flown onto the ice. These are the kinds of things being predicted to happen around the world, as glaciers decline and temperatures continue to warm,” he said.

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