Nearly half of the glaciers in World Heritage sites will disappear by the end of this century if greenhouse gas emissions continue unchecked, a report said Tuesday, with a severe warning issued for the Los Glaciares National Park in Santa Cruz Province.
Argentina's famous national park – which includes the iconic Perito Moreno glacier – contains some of the largest glaciers on the planet and "a very large ice loss – about 60% of the current volume – is predicted by 2100 within this site," the report's authors wrote.
A new study from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) focused on the 46 World Heritage sites where glaciers are found, including Grosser Aletschgletscher in the Swiss Alps, Greenland's Jakobshavn Glacier and Khumbu Glacier in the Himalayas.
Using a variety of data and advanced modelling, the authors "predict glacier extinction by 2100 under a high emission scenario in 21 of the 46 natural World Heritage sites where glaciers are currently found," IUCN said in a statement.
That "high emission scenario" refers to the status quo, where the commitments made under the 2015 Paris climate pact are not met.
Sites likely to see the most severe ice-loss are Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina, the experts warned, as well and Waterton Glacier International Peace Park, which straddles the Canada-US border.
The disappearance of small glaciers in the Pyrenees - Mont Perdu World Heritage site could happen before 2040, according to IUCN projections.
Even if nations deliver on the terms of the Paris agreement, eight of the 46 World Heritage sites analysed in the report will still be ice-free by the year 2100, IUCN added.
"Losing these iconic glaciers would be a tragedy and have major consequences for the availability of water resources, sea level rise and weather patterns," Peter Shadie, director of IUCN's World Heritage Programme, said in the statement.
“This unprecedented decline could also jeopardise the listing of the sites in question on the World Heritage list. States must reinforce their commitments to combat climate change and step up efforts to preserve these glaciers for future generations,” he added.
IUCN, widely-known for its "red list" of endangered species, has developed the first ever inventory of the 19,000 glaciers spread across 46 World Heritage sites.