Only four days have been enough for a river up to 150 meters wide to disappear completely. It happened in May 2016, when the effects of climate change on the Kaskawulsh glacier, in Canada, diverted the path of the meltwater to, with this alteration, erase the Slims River from the map. According to the experts who discovered the phenomenon, this is the first known case of river piracy in the modern era.
Up to seven specialists from universities in the United States and Canada have participated in the investigation of an event that has turned what was historically the Slims River into a ” dust storm “, according to the geologist at the University of Illinois, James Best. This current was one of those that channeled the meltwater from the Kaskawulsh glacier to, from there, pass to another river, the Yukon, which, from Alaska, reached the Bering Sea.
However, in the last days of May last year, a turn was operated in the glacier that, from releasing water towards two channels, became only one due to the changes that global warming has generated in its structure. smaller and with a new inclination that oriented its waters, no longer towards the Slims; but to another river further south -the Alsek-, through which the water now runs towards the Pacific.
Although river piracy (the diversion of a current) had occurred in the past, however, due to tectonic alternations, geologists who have studied the sudden disappearance of this river in Canada consider it to be the first case of the modern era and, also, the first in which the man can be pointed out as the main cause, if not the only one, of what happened.
The drying up of the river in four days has caused the only flow through which the water now flows to multiply by sixty, while in the area bathed before by the Slims the landscape has not returned to what it once was, nor the ecosystem, with significant changes in flora and fauna.
But the effects are spreading. The research carried out by geology experts, who analyzed the area from the air, in addition to incorporating images captured by drones into their studies, yields several alarming conclusions: the first, that the damage is irreversible, so, by the Slims, probably do not run the water again. The other goes from the particular to the general, with the recording of the first event of this type, whose effects, according to experts, can be rapid and unpredictable; more so when, after what happened, there is the hand of man and a climate change that advances and that leaves, with the meteoric disappearance of an entire river, one more sample of its effects on the planet.