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Wednesday, 4th April 2012
In Weather In Japan,

Japan discovers its first ever glacier

A glacier has been discovered in Japan's Tateyama Mountains, the first in the country's history.

The mass of ice was discovered within the Gozenzawa ravine in the country's Northern Alps and has now been officially credited as a glacier by the Society of Snow and Ice in Japan.

Before its discovery, authorities believed that the most easterly glacier was at the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia, the Mainichi Daily reported.

The Japanese Society of Snow and Ice is the only such body that provides official recognition of glaciers and the find is set to be published in the society's journal next month.

While most European glaciers are left over from the last ice age around 18,000 years ago, it is thought that the Tateyama glacier was created as a result of the area's heavy snowfall and relatively cold temperatures throughout the summer months.

Speaking to the news provider, 67-year-old Yoshiyuki Fujii, the society's former chairman, said the discovery was a major development.

"Confirming the existence of a glacier in a warm place like Japan is a major find," he said.

The search for the glacier began in 2009 when the Tateyama Caldera Sabo Museum began drilling 20-metre holes down through the snow surface to get to the ice mass.

Towards the end of 2011, GPS readings were then taken which established that the glacier had moved between seven and 32 centimetres

Keishi Ishimoto, who is editor-in-chief of the society's journal and an advisor for the Japan Weather Association, said that this was the first time that data could be used to prove the existence of a glacier.

"Various people have conducted investigations in different spots, but hadn't been able to confirm anything," he told the news provider.

"Using the latest equipment to obtain concrete data was what led to confirmation this time."

Written by Mark Smith