There is widespread evidence that glaciers are retreating in many mountain areas of the world. Since 1850, the glaciers of the European Alps have lost about 30 to 40% of their surface area and about half of their volume. Similarly, glaciers in the New Zealand Southern Alps have lost 25% of their area over the last 100 years, and glaciers in several regions of central Asia have been retreating since the 1950s. Glaciers on Mt. Kenya and Kilimanjaro have lost over 60% of their area in the last century, and accelerated retreat has been reported for the Peruvian Andes.

"Glaciers in the Himalayas are receding faster than in any other part of the world," according to a study by the International Commission for Snow and Ice (ICSI). "If the present rate continues, the likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 is very high."