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New study maps glacier mass change in the Himalayas


Glacial  reservoirs are among largest  freshwater deposits on Earth. About 1% of global sea level rise is caused by melting – that’s about 3-4% of the total  global glaciers and ice caps. However, researchers don’t have enough data considering regional behaviour of glacial melting. One of such region is Himalayan massive, especially HinduKush – Karokoram – Himalaya region , a 2000 km long group of mountain ranges in Asia. It contains about 60 000 square kilometers of glacier, glacierets and perennial surface ice.

glaciers around the world

New datasets from Earth-observing satellites provided the first overview mapping of Himalayan glaciers. ESA’s Globglacier and Glacier CCI projects used laser altimeter data from NASA’s ICESat mission and combined them with a digital elevation model from the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission and optical data from the Landsat mission to map glacial thickness changes in HKKH for 2003–09. The laser altimeter data were extracted for different types of glacier surfaces derived from the Landsat data and compared with the digital elevation model to obtain elevation differences over time.

Researchers found that the glacier in the region lost 12 gigatons per year over period 2003-2008. This rate of ice melt is much faster than previously reported. Considering significant subregional variations related to different climate and glaciology pattern, researchers reported that glaciers thinned by 0.26m per year on average. The fastest melting is reported in Jammu – Kashmir subregion  where thinning rates reached around 0.66m per year.

Glacial runoff has a different effect on the nearby Indus and Ganges River basins. The changes in mass of the glaciers generated between 2 and 3.5% of the total discharge into these rivers and their tributaries. Upper Indus basin receives almost 10% of meltwater.

The article, ‘Contrasting patterns of early 21st-century glacier mass change in the Himalayas’ outlined a study which is published in Nature.

GlobGlacial Summary Report (SR)

GLIMS Glacier Database

World Glacier Inventory

Sources: ESA, GlobGlacier, Glacier CCI

Featured image: Khumbu ice fall, Khumbu Glacier, near the Everest Base Camp. Mt Everest peak (8848 m asl.) is in the upper right background, mostly hidden by its west shoulder.  (Credit: K. Casey)

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  1. Immanuel Velikovsky wrote about this in his book:

    “Earth in Upheaval”
    Chapter 4 – The Birth of the Ice Age Theory
    Subtitles – Ice Age in the Tropics, Greenland, Corals of the Polar Regions, On the Russian Plains.

    This Chapter will make you rethink everything you have learned by way of institutional teachings over the years. The writings of Immanuel Velikovsky are very detailed and provide visual acuity that have opened my mind to other possibilities e.g., catastrophes that changed the face of Earth in a shorter period of time supported by global tangible facts.

    I implore others to pick up his writings and read for themselves and you too shall be enlightened.

  2. Remember looking at a spring mud bog. Not too deep. As the weeks go bye, and every year it dries up, cracks, supports no life. Our mountains lose their caps and dry up. The planet continues to warm. Winter becomes a thing of the past. Plants die. Animals die. Oceans die then people. That is our future our grand kids will have. Our Great great grand kids may become nomadic in their late life..or sooner. People will go underground again and remain there until this cycle once again ends. There will be a new map. New poles, new land mass’s.

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