Glaciers melting on Mount Ararat
by Senol Bali
Mount Ararat, Turkey's largest mountain, was declared a National Park on November 17, 2004. The 5,137-meter-high Mount Ararat (Agri) is visited by climbers and tourists worldwide yearly. The hat glaciers at the mountain's summit are melting due to global warming. According to experts, these visits carry risks and accelerate the melting process of the glaciers.
Assoc. Prof. Onur Satır, a faculty member at Van Yüzüncü Yıl University, stressed that the melting of the glaciers is inevitable due to rising temperatures. "According to the data from meteorological stations, there is a warming trend," he says. "This is the picture if we look at the last 50 years. This is the situation in Turkey, except for a few stations in the Black Sea. This is also the case in the world, so the melting of glaciers will continue. It is inevitable. The glaciers in Ararat and Cilo are also affected by this situation. Mount Ararat is experiencing mass collapses".
Mehmet Nuri Tasdemir, the representative of the East Anatolian Environmental Platform in Agri, says that the melting of Ararat's glaciers has been ongoing for 30 years. He points out that the mountain has lost 31 meters in height due to melting in recent years. "While the height of Mount Ararat (Agri) used to be 5165 meters when we went there in August last year, we found it to be 5134 meters. That is a loss of 31 meters. This is the length of a 15-story apartment building. The mountain is still losing height. It is a difficult situation. If this continues, in a few years, there will be no snow on the summit," he says.
'Rocks breaking off with glaciers create flood risk'
Tasdemir also says that the melting of the glaciers is causing rocks to break off and fall from the mountain, creating a flood risk. "As a result of this melting with global warming, the physical structure of the mountain is also deteriorating," he says. "The mountain is also being destroyed by the movement of large masses that break off in places where the sun is intense. Every year, tonnes of rock and soil slide down with the melting glacial waters and pile up in the Öküz and Cehennem streams at the foot of the mountain. This also poses a risk of flooding.
Visits accelerate melting
The summit of Mount Ararat is visited by hundreds of nature lovers and athletes every year. But experts say these visits are accelerating the melting process. Assoc. Prof. Dr. Onur Satir says glaciers with high melting rates should be entirely closed for holidays.
"In some places, it may not be visible on the surface, but small streams are formed by melting from below," he says. "This creates gaps that may not be able to withstand the pressure. There may also be fractures in places that loosen. Some sites may close. Pressure can also speed up melting, and the glacier can become stuck. Of course, people are curious to go and see. There is a risk. Places where the sun does not shine, can be opened to visitors.
How can the melting be slowed down?
The melting of glaciers can be slowed down, although it cannot be prevented. Assoc. Prof. Dr. Onur Satir lists the measures that can be taken: "The melting of glaciers will continue, but there are solutions to slow it down. For example, they can be covered with fiber fabrics. This fabric system is very effective, and the cost is not high. Covering melting glaciers is being done in Italy. It can also be done here under the guidance of experts. Preventing melting means preserving the glacier for longer. And it is not necessary to cover the whole glacier. The slopes constantly exposed to the sun will melt more, so it will be enough to cover only those areas".