A new study suggests that the glaciers in the Himalayas are shrinking, with different regions shrinking much faster than others.


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The uncertainty of science: A new study suggests that the glaciers in the Himalayas are shrinking, with different regions shrinking much faster than others.

This study both supplements and contrasts other work which suggested that the western Himalayan glaciers were not shrinking.

It is interesting that the article above does not give any specifics on the rate of shrinkage, other than to say it is getting faster in some areas. Instead, the focus of this work centers more on the discovery that India’s monsoon winds have a significant influence on glacier growth or retreat.

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2 comments

  • Jim

    There are two key findings from the study:
    1. Not only are the glaciers shrinking, they are shrinking rapidly. And as the author is quoted,
    “Temperature rise is important.”
    2. The contrasting with the previous study which showed glacier stability in one range, is due to the uncertainty of using GRACE satellites, which the study showing glacier stability used. This current study looked at the entire region (7100 glaciers), rather than one area.
    And, as author Yao Tandong says,”… the GRACE satellites can only feel the gravitational pull and can’t tell the difference between ice and liquid water, they may have mistaken expanding glacial lakes for increases in glacier mass,”
    And John Wahr, lead author of the GRACE study says, the criticism is valid.

  • Jim

    By the way, the study itself provides the rate and amount of shrinkage.
    http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nclimate1580.html

    The one quote of note is this:
    “…(the Himalayas) shows the most extreme glacial shrinkage based on the reduction both of glacier length and area. The shrinkage is most pronounced in the southeastern TBP (region I), where the length decreased at a rate of 48.2 m yr.”

    And “The smallest rate of glacier contraction is observed in the eastern Pamir regions (region V), with a retreat rate of 0.9 m yr.”

    Other rates falling in between are listed as well.

    And in regard to its general findings, here is the quote:
    “IN ADDITION TO RISING TEMPERATURE, decreased precipitation in the Himalayas and increasing precipitation in the eastern Pamir accompanied by different atmospheric circulation patterns is probably driving these systematic differences.”

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