Most Himalayan Glaciers May Be Retreating, But Half of Western Ones Are Advancing


photo: Boris Johnson/Creative Commons

Some more on the both simple and complex situation of Himalayan glaciers in a warming world: A new piece in Reuters fits in well with what TreeHugger has reported on a number of occasions, while the overall trend is towards declining glaciers, with about two-thirds of glaciers in the central and eastern Himalaya are in retreat, in the western Himalaya over half of glaciers are advancing, due to conditions in the Karakoram range being different than in places where the monsoon is more of an influence. Talking about his new study published in Nature Geoscience, Dirk Scherler of the University of Potsdam says,

Overall in the Himalayas, the glaciers are retreating...Our study shows there is no uniform response of Himalayan glaciers to climate change and highlights the importance of debris cover.

In places where debris cover was less than 2cm thick it was found to speed melting, as it absorbed heat from the sun, but in places where it was thicker it actually slowed melting by acting as insulation.

Another factor to consider: Recent research, also in Nature Geoscience, shows that compared to glaciers in other parts of the world, the impact of warming on Himalayan glaciers may be less than initially believed (and feared...). According to a study which focused on the world's small glaciers, by 2100 Himalayan glaciers as a whole by show only a 10-15% decline.

Glaciers elsewhere? That research linked just above shows that about half of the world's small glaciers are likely to be gone by 2100, with anywhere from 40-90% of total glaciers outside the Himalaya gone by the same time period.

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More on Glaciers:
Half of World's Small Glaciers Will Be Entirely Melted by 2100 - But There's Good News For The Himalayas
Some Himalayan Glaciers Are Growing. Does This Mean Global Warming Isn't Real?
Don't Oversimplify Glacier Retreating (and Advancing) Reports

Tags: Global Climate Change | Global Warming Effects