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Climate: Melting Himalayan glaciers threaten farms

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A NASA Earth Observatory image shows the high peaks of the snow-capped Himalaya Mountains.

New study documents pace of ice loss in world’s tallest mountain

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Melting Himalyan glaciers may not be causing a direct rise in sea level, but in some cases, the water is causing lakes overflow, flooding valuable agricultural land.

Glaciers are important indicators of climate change. Global warming causes mountain glaciers to melt, which, apart from the shrinking of the Greenlandic and Antarctic ice sheets, is regarded as one of the main causes of the present global sea-level rise.

Tibet’s glaciers have been losing mass at the rate of about 16 gigatons per year for the past decade. That loss is spread across about 80 percent of Tibet’s glaciers, according to Tobias Bolch, a glaciologist from the University of Zurich. That’s more than four times the volume of water in Lake Zurich and around six percent of the total loss in mass of all the glaciers on Earth. Continue reading

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Global warming: Mt. Everest’s glaciers melting away

Temperatures up, precipitation down in key Asian watersheds

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A new study finds a decline in snow and ice on Mount Everest (second peak from left) and the national park surrounding it. Photo courtesy Pavel Novak.

FRISCO — Even at the frozen roof of the world in the mighty Himalaya, global warming is evident.

The snow line in the Mt. Everest region has moved uphill by 180 meters (590 feet). Glaciers in the region are shrinking, some by as much as 13 percent in the past 50 years, and precipitation has declined, according to a team of scientists who will present their findings this week at the Meeting of the Americas in Cancún, Mexico.

Glaciers smaller than one square kilometer are disappearing the fastest and have experienced a 43 percent decrease in surface area since the 1960s, according to Sudeep Thakuri, who is leading the research as part of his PhD graduate studies at the University of Milan in Italy. Based on the detailed measurements of satellite images, the pace of melting speeding up, Thakuri said. Continue reading

Global warming: Bhutan’s glaciers at risk

Graduate student Josh Maurer and professor Summer Rupper on a glacier  near Rinchen Zoe La, Bhutan. Photo courtesy Brigham Young University.

Snowfall rates would need to double to slow glacial retreat

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — After significant warming during half century, about 10 percent of Bhutan’s glaciers are likely to disappear within the next few decades — even if regional and global temperatures were to stabilize at current levels.

“These particular glaciers have seen so much warming in the past few decades that they’re currently playing lots of catch up,” Brigham Young University geology professor Summer Rupper said after studying climate and glaciers in the Himalaya.

Rupper’s most conservative findings the amount of melt water coming off these glaciers could drop by 30 percent. Increasing temperatures are just one culprit behind glacier retreat. A number of climate factors such as wind, humidity, precipitation and evaporation can affect how glaciers behave. With some Bhutanese glaciers as long as 13 miles, an imbalance in any of these areas can take them decades to completely respond. Continue reading

Global warming: New study says Himalayan glaciers not melting as fast as previously predicted, at least for now

Some glaciers have expanded in the past decade, but concerns remain about growing glacial lakes in the region

Retreating mountain glaciers in Bhutan. This satellite image shows the termini of several glaciers in the Himalayan mountains of Bhutan. The glaciers have been receding over the past few decades, and lakes have formed on the surfaces and near the termini of many of the glaciers. IMAGE COURTESY NASA.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Glaciers in the Himalaya are not shrinking as fast as once predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Some glaciers in the Karakoram Range have grown slightly in the past decade, according to a team of European researchers who recently completed one of the most detailed surveys of the region to-date.

But there are still valid concerns about variability that could leave some valleys dry, at least on a seasonal basis.

“The majority of the Himalayan glaciers are shrinking, but much less rapidly than predicted earlier,” said Tobias Bolch, of the University of Zurich and Dresden University of Technology. Continue reading

Roads: Crossing the Himalaya

Khardung La is one of the highest passes in the world

A SECMOL volunteer sits atop one of our buses as we wait for the pass to open.

By Garrett Palm

Oxygen deprived, I mistake the older, leather-clad German couple’s “Sprechen sie Deutsch?” as asking if I speak Dutch. I sing a happy birthday song in the wrong language, learned from my mother, which they greet with polite, confused laughter. Continue reading

New report documents melting Asian glaciers

Glaciers in the Himalaya appear to be in a downward spiral, melting under the onslaught of global warming.

Water supplies threatened, flooding risks also growing

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — U.S. Geological Survey scientists recently teamed up with colleagues from around the world to thoroughly survey the glaciers of Asia, and the news is not good for millions of people who rely on runoff from those high mountain zones.

Many of Asia’s glaciers are retreating as a result of climate change, the study concluded. The rapid melting of the glaciers will impact water supplies across huge areas, increase the rate of sea level rise and heighten the likelihood of sudden floods.
In Bhutan, 66 glaciers have receded by 8.1 percent over the last 30 years.  Continue reading

Global warming panel admits mistake in 2007 climate report

Climate researchers admitted they erred in claiming that glaciers in the Himalaya could melt by 2035 because of global warming, but that doesn't change the fact that many of the world's glaciers are retreating at a rapid pace. Click on the image for a recent report on the state of glaciers.

A claim that Himalayan glaciers could melt by 2035 was not vetted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, some scientists calling for reform

Compiled by Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — The admission by a top group of international climate researchers that they erred in estimating how fast major glaciers in the Himalaya could melt as a result of global warming has added new fuel to the ideological battle over climate change science, but doesn’t change the fundamental science.

The statement by the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change has been widely reported. Essentially, the group stated in 2007 that some of the major glaciers in the region could disappear as soon as 2035, leading to water shortages and other impacts in downstream regions.

Last week, the organization said that date was based on “poorly substantiated estimates of rate of recession,” and that the panel regrets “the poor application of well-established IPCC procedures in this instance.”

This is the original language in the report:

“Glaciers in the Himalaya are receding faster than in any other part of the world and, if the present rate continues, the likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high if the Earth keeps warming at the current rate.”

Continue reading

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