The world’s glaciers are melting quite rapidly and will likely cause all sorts of environmental problems, according to data from the World Glacier Monitoring Service. The WGMS tracks the health of 30 “reference” glaciers throughout the world and has said that their rate of melt has sped up significantly in recent years. Between 1980 and 1999, the glaciers shrunk an average of 11.8 inches; between 2000 and 2006, they dwindled by 4.9 feet on average. Wilfried Haeberli, director of WGMS, said that most of the world’s roughly 160,000 glaciers are receding “at least” as much as the reference glaciers, if not more. Rapidly melting glaciers are likely to cause avalanches and severe flooding in the short term, and in the long term could lead to sea-level rise as well as extreme drought and food shortages in many places that depend on them for their water supply. “There are many canaries emerging in the climate-change coal mine,” said Achim Steiner of the United Nations Environment Program. “The glaciers are perhaps among those making the most noise and it is absolutely essential that everyone sits up and takes notice.”