Mar 16, 2016

Rapid melt of New Zealand glaciers ends hikes onto them

Franz Josef Glacier 7886
Fox Glacier 7886
New Zealand
by
Nick Perry
,
Associated Press
In this Feb. 6, 2016 photo, tourists who have taken a helicopter trip onto the Fox Glacier climb through a hole in the ice in New Zealand. The Fox and Franz Josef glaciers have been melting at such a rapid rate that it has become too dangerous for tourists to hike onto them from the valley floor, ending a tradition that dates back a century. Photo: Nick Perry, AP
In this Feb. 6, 2016 photo, tourists who have taken a helicopter trip onto the Fox Glacier climb through a hole in the ice in New Zealand. The Fox and Franz Josef glaciers have been melting at such a rapid rate that it has become too dangerous for tourists to hike onto them from the valley floor, ending a tradition that dates back a century. Photo: Nick Perry, AP

Heather Purdie, a scientist at the University of Canterbury and lead author of the paper, said climate change is the driving factor behind the rapid decline of two popular tourist destinations in New Zealand: the Franz Josef and Fox glaciers.

Tour operators stopped taking guided hikes onto the Franz Josef in 2012 and the nearby Fox in 2014.

A 2014 paper published in the journal Global and Planetary Change concluded the two glaciers have each melted by 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) in length since the 1800s, making them about 20 percent shorter.[1] The glaciers have recently been melting at a faster pace than ever previously recorded, the authors said