Some Himalayan Glaciers are Growing. Does this Mean Global Warming Isn't Real?


Photo: Aaron Ostrovsky, CC
Was Global Warming Cancelled and Nobody Told Me?
It would certainly be cause for celebration if that was the case, but sadly, when you look at the full picture and not just the sound-byte, the reality is different. But let's start at the beginning: According to a new study to be published in the Annals of Glaciology (everybody's subscribing to the one, right?), a group of about 230 glaciers in the Western Himalayas are either growing or holding instead of retreating like most other glaciers. The study points to a potential explanation for that, and it sounds very plausible. Read on for more details.

Photo: Flickr, CC
Here's How Global Warming Can Make Glaciers Grow
From Discovery News:

When Shroder and a team of researchers examined satellite imagery of the region's glaciers dating back to 1960, they found that 87 glaciers had surged forward during that time, sliding down into lower elevations. An analysis of gravity signatures in the region also suggests the glaciers are growing in mass, and have been since at least 1980. [...]

Surging glaciers are common and do not necessarily mean a glacier is growing in overall size. But the fact that dozens of them have all surged in the same region hints that larger climate forces are at work.

"It looks like it's the Westerlies," Shroder said, referring to strong jets of wind that pour from west to east in a belt around the planet. Though he can't say for certain, the winds appear to be carrying more moisture from the warming Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea eastward.

If that's true, some of the moisture would fall into the region around the Caspian Sea. But as the winds rise into Karakoram's frigid heights, any remaining water would come down as snow, feeding the glaciers.

It makes a lot of sense. If the sea is warming somewhere, evaporation will go up. If those clouds are carried by an air current that takes them to a very cold region, those precipitations can fall as snow and stick around for a long time, increasing the size of glaciers.

Via Discovery News
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