Himalayan Glaciers Not Melting

According to a flurry of recent reports by the BBC and other mass media, the glaciers in the Himalayan mountains are melting at a furious pace. Of course this is taken as proof that climate change is still taking place at an ever accelerating rate, despite the fact the global temperatures have remained flat for the past decade. What, then, explains the rapidly retreating Himalayan glaciers? Nothing, because the glaciers are not shrinking. A new report by a senior Indian glaciologist states that the glaciers remain frozen and quite intact, thank you.

The report by Vijay Kumar Raina, formerly of the Geological Survey of India, seeks to correct widely spread reports that India's 10,000 or so Himalayan glaciers are shrinking rapidly in response to climate change. It's not true, Raina says. The rumors may have originated in the Asia chapter of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC's) 2007 Working Group II report, which claims that Himalayan glaciers “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.” Evidently, the bogus reporting was based on measurements from only a handful of glaciers.

Raina's report draws on published studies and unpublished findings from half a dozen Indian groups who have analyzed remote-sensing satellite data or conducted on-site surveys at remote locations often higher than 5000 meters. While the report surveyed of a number of glaciers, two particularly iconic ones stand out. The first is the 30-kilometer-long Gangotri glacier, source of the Ganges River. Between 1934 and 2003, the glacier retreated an average of 70 feet (22 meters) a year and shed a total of 5% of its length. But in 2004 and 2005, the retreat slowed to about 12 meters a year, and since September 2007 Gangotri has been “practically at a standstill,” according to Raina's report.

Gangotri glacier, source of the Ganges River, retreated a few dozen meters from 2004 to 2008.
Photos provided by V. K. Raina.

The second glacier, the Siachin glacier in Kashmir, is even more stable. Claims reported in the popular press that Siachin has shrunk as much as 50% are simply wrong, says Raina, whose report notes that the glacier has “not shown any remarkable retreat in the last 50 years.” These conclusions were based in part on field measurements by ecologist Kireet Kumar of the G. B. Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development in Almora. Much like the hysteria about Greenland's ice cap, it seems reports of the glaciers' demise are a bit premature.

According to a report in the journal Science, “several Western experts who have conducted studies in the region agree with Raina's nuanced analysis—even if it clashes with IPCC's take on the Himalayas.” The “extremely provocative” findings “are consistent with what I have learned independently,” says Jeffrey S. Kargel, a glaciologist at the University of Arizona, Tucson. Many glaciers in the Karakoram Mountains, on the border of India and Pakistan, have “stabilized or undergone an aggressive advance,” he says, citing new evidence gathered by a team led by Michael Bishop, a mountain geomorphologist at the University of Nebraska.

Having recently returned from an expedition to K2, one of the highest peaks in the world, Canadian glaciologist Kenneth Hewitt says he observed five advancing glaciers and only a single one in retreat. Such evidence “challenges the view that the upper Indus glaciers are ‘disappearing’ quickly and will be gone in 30 years,” said Hewitt. “There is no evidence to support this view and, indeed, rates of retreat have been less in the past 30 years than the previous 60 years.”

Other researchers and noted experts have raised their voices in support of Raina's conclusions. According to Himalayan glacier specialist John “Jack” Shroder, the only possible conclusion is that IPCC's Himalaya assessment got it “horribly wrong.” The University of Nebraska researcher adds, “They were too quick to jump to conclusions on too little data.”

Looks like the Himalayas stay frozen. Photo UNEP.

The IPCC also erred in its forecast of the impact of glacier melting on water supply, claims Donald Alford, a Montana-based hydrologist who recently completed a water study for the World Bank. One of the dire predictions that the IPCC report made was for water shortages in the region. “Our data indicate the Ganges results primarily from monsoon rainfall, and until the monsoon fails completely, there will be a Ganges river, very similar to the present river.” Glacier melt contributes only 3% to 4% of the Ganges's annual flow, says Kireet Kumar. Another piece of climate catastrophist propaganda debunked.

Even when faced with data showing the errors in their work, the IPCC seems incapable of admitting they were wrong. Typically, Murari Lal, chair of the Climate, Energy and Sustainable Development Analysis Centre in New Delhi and coordinating lead author of the 2007 IPCC report's Asia chapter, rejects the notion that IPCC was off the mark on Himalayan glaciers. Even more petulantly, IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri accused the Indian environment ministry of “arrogance” for its report claiming there is no evidence that climate change has shrunk the Himalayan glaciers. Unfortunately for the climate change alarmists the truth is out, the glaciers of the Himalayas remain safely frozen and won't be disappearing anytime soon.

Be safe, enjoy the interglacial and stay skeptical.

New Study Finds ‘Remarkable’ Growth Of Tibetan Glaciers

A new study just out in the Journal of Geophysical Research Solid Earth finds the high Asian mountain inner Tibet Plateau glaciers are gaining remarkable quantities of ice mass. According to the authors, there is a “remarkable positive signal (+30 Gigatons/yr) in the inner Tibet Plateau, which is challenging to explain” and almost completely offsets loss of 35Gt/yr elsewhere in the region. The authors explain a 5-year cycle found in other Asian high mountain glacier mass as due to the natural “influence of Arctic Oscillation and El Niño-Southern Oscillation.”

Here is the abstract:

Evaluation of Glacier Changes in High Mountain Asia Based on 10-year GRACE-RL05 Models
Shuang Yi*, Wenke Sun

In this paper, 10 years of time-variable gravity data from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) Release 05 have been used to evaluate the glacier melting rate in High Mountain Asia (HMA) using a new computing scheme, i.e., the Space Domain Inverse (SADI) method. We find that in HMA area there are three different kinds of signal sources that should be treated together. The two generally accepted sources, glacier melting and India underground water depletion, are estimated to change at the rate of -35.0 ± 5.8 Gt/yr (0.09 mm/yr sea level rising) and -30.6 ± 5.0 Gt/yr, respectively. The third source is the remarkable positive signal (+30 Gt/yr) in the inner Tibet Plateau, which is challenging to explain. Further, we have found that there is a five-year undulation in Pamir and Karakoram, which can explain the controversies of the previous studies on the glacier melting rate here. This five-year signal can be explained by the influence of Arctic Oscillation and El Niño-Southern Oscillation.

Link to the article here (requires subscription).

Glaciers in USA

Same story in the USA. Some are retreating (Glacier National Park) some steady (Northern Cascades, Rocky Mountain National Park) some expanding (Mt. Shasta and Mt. Baker. Overall???? Can't say, but a continuation of melting from Little Ice Age would not surprise me, at least locally.

NASA Satellite Debunks Melting Glacier Myth

For the latest update on the Himalayan glacier melting fiasco see "NASA Satellite Debunks Melting Glacier Myth". I'll give you a hint, the title tells the story.



Apparently in Durban we are back to catastrophic melting of the glaciers.



It's all very well looking at one or two glaciers. But when you look at them all, a very different picture emerges.

Satellite imagery of the

Satellite imagery of the entire range shows little to no melt. I think that should classify as more than a glacier or two.

An Update

For an update on the state of Himalayan glacial melting see “Himalayan Glacier Disappearance Overstated.” Based on a new PNAS report, claims that they are going to rapidly disappear are unwarranted. Furthermore, the IPCC report was based on unrepresentative data whose main attribute is that they were easy to gather.

A Review of the Raina Report

Because of all the uproar over Dr. Raina's report, “Himalayan Glaciers – A State-of-Art Review of Glacial Studies, Glacial Retreat and Climate Change,” the government of India engaged Australian ice expert Cliff Ollier to perform a critical review. Here is the introduction to that review:

This book is a Discussion Paper issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India. Dr. Raina is an ex-Deputy Director of the Geological Survey of India, he spent many years studying the glaciers of the Himalayas, and has now produced a splendid over-view of the situation. He describes the history in investigation, details of glaciological studies, conclusions drawn from the studies, and finally a review of Global Warming and Glacier Retreat.

Here I shall refer to the main facts presented, and the basic conclusions, but put the emphasis on the last section, climate change, because the publication has already aroused vitriolic reactions from some quarters.

Himalayan glaciers show variable behaviour over the past hundred years. Most have retreated, some have stayed almost static, and some have a record of advance and retreat. This parallels the rest of the world, where most glaciers have been retreating since the end of the last glacial period. Many have shown alternating periods of advance and retreat.

Many people nowadays attribute the glacial retreat to anthropogenic global warming (AGW). But how can we tell when AGW started to affect the issue, or could all the changes we see be entirely natural, as they have to be for the pre-nineteenth century changes? Since glaciers have been retreating for thousands of years, why should the retreat of the past hundred years be attributed to a special cause? Can we find within the observed evidence some tests for deciding between natural and anthropogenic causes?

I believe that Dr Raina has provided the evidence, and interpreted it correctly.

Dr. Ollier, a professor at the School of Earth and Environment, University of Western Australia, has unequivocally pronounced Dr. Raina's work sound and his conclusions correct. The entire review document can be found here.

To melt or not to melt?

I have never understood the alarmist take on the glacier issue. (Slowly) melting glaciers is good news for those downstream communities and in fact is probably the reason for their existence.

Glaciers must melt/retreat to actually be a source of water. If they aren't melting then the source of water can only come from annual precipitation - warm season rain plus cold season snow retained on the glacier. To the extent that this is variable from year to year but typically deficient in the late summer, the melting glacier makes up for the slowdown in runoff from annual precipitation.

As soon as the glacier stops melting, these communities better start drilling wells. And if the glacier starts advancing, they had better run! (Okay, walking is probably sufficient.)

As Doug says, we need to "enjoy the interglacial" All that melted and melting ice is what makes more of the earth habitable!

glaciers melting

what were to happen if half of the glaciers melt? would we have to move away from the coast?

To melt or not to melt?

You must not live in Florida or anywhere else close to sea level. Too much water downstream only means rising sea levels......

Florida sinking

I went to school (undergrad) in Florida. It is a combination sandbar and swamp; why people want to live there is beyond me. At times in the past it has been twice a wide as it is now and at others mostly under water—I have no preference either way. Humans should leave Florida to the gators, egrets and manatee.

See the update article

There is an update article available at “Himalayan Glacier Update: Nature Report Misleading.”

Himalayan glaciers are shrinking

i lived right next to Ganga close to Devprayag for 2 years and it is obvious that the level of Ganga is going down visible to the naked eye
May be those who are playing down the melting of the glaciers should be investigated if they have any connection to the NHPC . Who is planing the insane construction of varies dams at Ganga .Alaknanda and Bhagirathi destroying nature and ancient sacred places just to make a multi million dollar profit, going into a few peoples pocket.
May be authorities should look in this direction a bit more
Lothar Pfeifer

Pachuari's Problems

After the Raina report was released, debunking IPCC claims that Himalayan glaciers were melting faster than other glaciers and that they would be fully melted by 2035, IPCC head Rajendra Pachauri termed the research “voodoo science” and accused the Indian environment ministry of “arrogance” for its report. As it turns out, it was the IPCC's claims that were bogus, based on third hand speculation from a little known scientist. This has started a public outcry and led to further revelations of wrongdoing. Read more here.

Glacier scientist: I knew data hadn't been verified

Yet another report about the stink over the IPCC's false melting Himalayan glacier report. This one comes from the UK's Mail online:

The scientist behind the bogus claim in a Nobel Prize-winning UN report that Himalayan glaciers will have melted by 2035 last night admitted it was included purely to put political pressure on world leaders.

Dr Murari Lal also said he was well aware the statement, in the 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), did not rest on peer-reviewed scientific research...

The full story can be found here.

For those who would like to read more.

There have been a few complaints that this article was light on references. Here are more of articles on regarding the melting of Himalayan glaciers, including the Science article that I based my report on and the Times article I quoted below:

For those who thought my title “Himalayan Glaciers Not Melting” was misleading consider “No Sign Yet of Himalayan Meltdown” from no less a source than the AAAS journal Science. My posts are science reporting not scientific papers that would be submitted to a journal. I report on journal articles because most people would find such papers hard to understand and horribly boring. Pedants who think my titles too provocative or inaccurate need to adjust their judgment paradigms.

Your head is stuck in the sand

Here is an excerpt from a March 2010 article that discusses the shrinking of glaciers world wide. Yes the Himalayan glaciers ARE shrinking particularly at the lower levels. Yes the 2035 date was inaccurate but that does not change the fact that all over the world, including the Himalayas, the glaciers are retreating or dramatically losing mass.
So far, most on-the-ground measurements in both the Himalayas and the Karakoram range have focused on whether the glaciers' snouts — the points at which they end — are retreating3. On-the-ground studies of around 40 Himalayan glaciers' snouts have shown that nearly all were consistently retreating, most at rates of around 10 to 20 metres annually and some by as much as 50 to 70 metres per year, in recent years.

Karakoram glaciers seem to buck the trend, however. Several studies of a handful of glaciers in Pakistan have found that many glaciers there are steady at their snouts, and some have even advanced. Others are flowing at about the same rate as decades ago4. “The general story is that these glaciers are pretty healthy,” says glaciologist Luke Copland of the University of Ottawa in Ontario. But it makes sense that the Karakoram glaciers would respond differently from those in the Himalayas, says Armstrong. “It's colder. It's higher latitude,” up to ten degrees latitude farther north than Nepal. “That's a big difference,” he says.

More important than the rate of retreat is the overall loss of ice from the glaciers, says Eriksson. Even while the snout of the glacier holds a steady position, it can be thinning both from melting and from sublimation, in which the ice vaporizes. “Glaciers can be standing still and wasting away,” says Cogley. More estimates are needed of mass balance — in other words, whether a glacier is gaining or losing mass. “It's the best way to assess the health of a glacier,” Cogley says.

Despite the scarcity of mass-balance estimates, some trends can be teased out. “Most glaciers are thinning, except at the highest elevations,” says Cogley. They're losing mass overall, and possibly at an accelerating rate. Looking at all the available measurements, he says, “It suggests, at least to me, that the rate of loss is greater than a few decades ago.” This fits with measurements from other glaciers around the world, which have been losing mass since the 1960s, and increasingly since the early 1990s.

But such studies don't show any support for another claim in the IPCC report that “glaciers in the Himalaya are receding faster than in any other part of the world”. According to a 2006 review by Cogley and others5, the Himalayas are in the middle of the pack, with European glaciers losing the least mass and those in Alaska losing the most (Fig. 1).

Figure 1: Middle of the pack.

Compared with other mountainous regions worldwide, Himalayan glaciers are losing mass faster than European glaciers but slower than those in Alaska. Adapted from ref. 4. Courtesy of AGU.

Full figure and legend (49 KB)

Solutions from space

To get a better picture of how glaciers are changing in these hard-to-reach areas, researchers are turning to satellites. Most satellite studies have used photos of the glaciers to determine whether the snouts are retreating, but a few have also been able to measure changes in the glaciers' thickness. One of the first of these studies of thickness6, in 2007, found that the glaciers were thinning across a wide area of the western Himalayas. At low elevations, they lost about eight to ten metres of thickness, and at high elevations two metres — reinforcing glaciologists' suspicion that there is more mass loss from low elevations than high elevations. What's more, the study found “an increase in the pace of glacier wastage”, with glaciers thinning twice as fast in recent years as they were in the late 1970s.


That article fails to mention what season those satellites took the photos. They could have very well took them in the spring or summer - natural periods of warmth. They did not mention other methods of their 'supposed' decline. All in all, the article is weak and does not present data accordingly.

Shrinking glaciers

The headline on this blog is misleading. The statement that the Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 2035 (actually the relevant report said they could be reduced to a fifth of their area by then) was wrong - the date should apparently have been 2305. But this does not mean that the glaciers are not shrinking - even Raina's report did not say this, only that the shrinkage has slowed down. This is not surprising since the rise in global mean temperatures has abated over the last few years. Both effects are to be expected - just as global temperatures do not rise constantly it is to be expected that the retreat of glaciers will not be at a constant rate either.

This doesn't of course excuse the stupid mistake made in the IPCC 2007 report - but one swallow does not make a summer. Stay skeptical by all means, if that means being open-minded. But don't criticize the AGW lobby for inaccurate statements by making inaccurate ones of your own.

The Headline

Reports from the IPCC have said that the Tibetan glaciers were “retreating at a higher speed than in any other part of the world” and that they would disappear entirely by 2035. This report says that the glaciers are intact and the only melting is what would normally be expected. Glaciers do vary in size with temperature trends, this is not in dispute. In fact, we are now about 14,000 years into a very big glacier melt-off called the Holocene interglacial (technically it was labeled an epoch, but if the Pleistocene Ice Age continues by serving up another glacial period that label wont last).

If this interglacial lasts as long as the one ~400,000 years ago (28,000 years) then there is a good chance that most all mountain glaciers will melt completely, along with a good portion of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. Even the last interglacial had higher sea levels than today, indicating a greater degree of melting, so yes, I expect the glaciers to keep on melting and even shrinking. The point is that this is natural, not part of some man-made catastrophe.

The headline and leader might have been overstating the case a bit, but the post was intended to counter claims even more bombastic. Some how “Himalayan Glaciers Not Melting As Fast As Some Reports But Are Still Melting As Expected” just doesn't have the same drawing power. If it offends your sense of propriety I'm sorry, but it did get you to read the article.

Rate of glacial melting

Did I mis-understand you? I thought you wrote 28,000 year natural melting cycle would be indistinguishable from a 30 year melting cycle. Now that is a bit different, isn't it? Did you stop to consider how much annual melting/retreating would be visible in the course of a 28,000 year melting of the Himalayan or Greenland glaciers? Wouldn't a melt rate of 1/1000 of the current rate be a little bit less noticeable?

There is no 30 year melting cycle

What are you referring to? The IPCC report about the Himalayan glaciers melting by 2035 was fourth hand misinformation based on speculation by an unqualified scientist who, by his own admission, neither reviewed the available data nor observed the glaciers in person. In other words, the claim was total hooey. There is no 30 year melting cycle. Your statement is based on falsehoods and your questions are meaningless. Read the reference links listed above.

Is this also a lie?



This NASA image shows the formation of numerous glacial lakes at the termini of receding glaciers in Bhutan-Himalaya.The Himalayas and other mountain chains of central Asia support large regions that are glaciated. These glaciers provide critical water supplies to arid countries such as Mongolia, western China, Pakistan and Afghanistan. As is true with other glaciers worldwide, the glaciers of Asia are experiencing a rapid decline in mass. The loss of these glaciers would have a tremendous impact on the ecosystem of the region.

In the Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan 28 of 30 glaciers examined retreated significantly during the 1976-2003 period, the average retreat was 11 meters per year (Haritashya). One of these glaciers the Zemestan Glacier has retreated 460 m during this period, not quite 10% of its 5.2 km length.(Pelto7) In examining 612 glaciers in China between 1950 and 1970, 53% of the glaciers studied were retreating. After 1990, 95% of these glaciers were measured to be retreating, indicating that retreat of these glaciers was becoming more widespread.(Rai, Guring, et alia) Glaciers in the Mount Everest region of the Himalayas are all in a state of retreat. The Rongbuk Glacier, draining the north side of Mount Everest into Tibet, has been retreating 20 m (66 ft) per year. In the Khumbu region of Nepal along the front of the main Himalaya of 15 glaciers examined from 1976-2007 all retreated significantly, average retreat was 28 m per year (Bajracjarya). The most famous of these Khumbu Glacier retreated at a rate of 18 m per year from 1976-2007(Bajracjarya). In India the Gangotri Glacier, retreated 34 m (110 ft) per year between 1970 and 1996, and has averaged a loss of 30 m (98 ft) per year since 2000. However, the glacier is still over 30 km (19 mi) long. In 2005 the Tehri Dam was finished on the Bhagirathi River, it is a 2400 mw facility that began producing hydropower in 2006. The headwaters of the Bhagirathi River is the Gangotri and Khatling Glacier, Garhwal Himalaya. Gangotri Glacier has retreated 1 km in the last 30 years, and with an area of 286 km2 provides up to 190 m3/second (Singh et. al., 2006). For the Indian Himalaya retreat ranged from -19 meters per year for 17 glaciers all retreating (Haritashya2). In Sikkim all 21 glaciers examined were retreating at an average rate of 20 m per year (Raina). For the 51 glaciers in the main Himalayan Range of India, Nepal and Sikkim all 51 are retreating, at an average rate of 23 m per year. In the Karokoram Range of the Himalaya there is a mix of advancing and retreating glaciers with 18 advancing and 22 retreating during the 1980-2003 period. Many of the advancing Karokoram glaciers are surging. (Haritashya2)

With the retreat of glaciers in the Himalayas, a number of glacial lakes have been created. A growing concern is the potential for Glacial Lake Outburst Floods—researchers estimate 20 glacial lakes in Nepal and 24 in Bhutan pose hazards to human populations should their terminal moraine dams fail. One glacial lake identified as potentially hazardous is Bhutan's Raphstreng Tsho, which measured 1.6 km (0.99 mi) long, .96 m (0.00096 km) wide and was 80 m (260 ft) deep in 1986. By 1995 the lake had swollen to a length of 1.94 km (1.21 mi), 1.13 km (0.70 mi) in width and a depth of 107 m (350 ft). In 1994 a GLOF from Luggye Tsho, a glacial lake adjacent to Raphstreng Tsho, killed 23 people downstream.(UNEP)

Glaciers in the Ak-shirak Range in Kyrgyzstan experienced a slight loss between 1943 and 1977 and an accelerated loss of 20% of their remaining mass between 1977 and 2001.(Khromova, Dyurgerov and Barry) In the Tien Shan mountains, which Kyrgyzstan shares with China and Kazakhstan, studies in the northern areas of that mountain range show that the glaciers that help supply water to this arid region have been losing nearly 2 km3 (0.48 cu mi) of ice per year between 1955 and 2000. The University of Oxford study also reported that an average of 1.28% of the volume of these glaciers had been lost per year between 1974 and 1990.(Kirby)

To the south of the Tien Shan, the Pamirs mountain range located primarily in Tajikistan has many thousands of glaciers, all of which are in a general state of retreat. During the 20th century, the glaciers of Tajikistan lost 20 km3 (4.8 cu mi) of ice. The 70 km (43 mi) long Fedchenko Glacier, which is the largest in Tajikistan and the largest non-polar glacier on Earth, lost 1.4% of its length, or 1 km (0.62 mi), 2 km3 (0.48 cu mi) of its mass, and the glaciated area was reduced by 11 km2 (4.2 sq mi) during the 20th century. Similarly, the neighboring Skogatch Glacier lost 8% of its total mass between 1969 and 1986. The country of Tajikistan and neighboring countries of the Pamir Range are highly dependent upon glacial runoff to ensure river flow during droughts and the dry seasons experienced every year. The continued demise of glacier ice will result in a short-term increase, followed by a long-term decrease in glacial melt water flowing into rivers and streams.(Novikov)

The Tibetan Plateau contains the world's third-largest store of ice. Qin Dahe, the former head of the China Meteorological Administration, said that the recent fast pace of melting and warmer temperatures will be good for agriculture and tourism in the short term; but issued a strong warning:

"Temperatures are rising four times faster than elsewhere in China, and the Tibetan glaciers are retreating at a higher speed than in any other part of the world.... In the short term, this will cause lakes to expand and bring floods and mudflows. . . . In the long run, the glaciers are vital lifelines for Asian rivers, including the Indus and the Ganges. Once they vanish, water supplies in those regions will be in peril."[4]


Just a question, nothing more...

So it would appear

Not wishing to impune the voracity of that ultimate source of scientific knowledge, Wikipedia, but I'm afraid that article mixes some truth, some half truth and some outright fabrication. It is true that glacial lakes form when glaciers melt, as they do every summer. Without the melting glaciers many regions of the world would suffer drought, crops would fail, etc. As for the rest, please consider this much more recent story from the news media:

A WARNING that climate change will melt most of the Himalayan glaciers by 2035 is likely to be retracted after a series of scientific blunders by the United Nations body that issued it.

Two years ago the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a benchmark report that was claimed to incorporate the latest and most detailed research into the impact of global warming. A central claim was the world's glaciers were melting so fast that those in the Himalayas could vanish by 2035.

In the past few days the scientists behind the warning have admitted that it was based on a news story in the New Scientist, a popular science journal, published eight years before the IPCC's 2007 report.

It has also emerged that the New Scientist report was itself based on a short telephone interview with Syed Hasnain, a little-known Indian scientist then based at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi.

Hasnain has since admitted that the claim was "speculation" and was not supported by any formal research. If confirmed it would be one of the most serious failures yet seen in climate research...

The article from the Times Online continues here. I have no intention of getting into a battle of source citations here. I would only say to our readers check into the matter yourselves and decide where the truth lies. Thank you for your comment.

Glaciers in retreat...

Nice photos of Everest, and a short video

Do you think 60 million people in the Indus and Brahmaputra basins are still focusing on that discredited researcher?

Who would be worried about the Earth's resilience? It's obvious the planet can survive catastrophic changes.

We've no experience in handling rapid changes. We need time to reorganise our unsustainable struggling food production systems. Climate instability increases the risk of crop failures and mass starvation.

The headlines are familiar - simultaneous extremes, highest and lowest temperatures, longest droughts and biggest floods. Our climate system is unstable during it's adaptation to increased CO2.

It's a tall order to expect researchers to accurately model and forecast a global-scale system in the midst of rapid change.


You are wrong in every sense, especially the "struggling food production". There is enough food for everyone, but the question is how to utilize resources correctly. When resources are utilized correctly food can be grown in great quantities for a fraction of land. It appears you have not looked at the agricultural evidence of this. You are also suggesting that our system is "unsustainable", and I am forced to conclude that you think there are too many people on this planet. I may be wrong, but this is the notion I'm getting.

As for your "retreating glaciers" glaciers come and go, and provide water. Besides, it would take many years (centuries) for a glacier to disappear completely. This does not count weather patterns and changes in the jetstream (which you have ignored).

Hardly just one dissenting voice

If you read the original post carefully you would realize that Raina's report draws on published studies and unpublished findings from half a dozen Indian groups who have analyzed remote-sensing satellite data or conducted on-site surveys. Also, Raina's observations were corroborated by Canadian glaciologist Kenneth Hewitt, Jeffrey S. Kargel, a glaciologist at the University of Arizona, and Himalayan glacier specialist Jack Shroder. So it is not one source contradicting the rapid melting and going to disappear claim. Follow the link to the report in Science.

The news article I referenced in my first reply, if you bother to follow the link, contains a direct repudiation of the “Tibetan glaciers are retreating at a higher speed than in any other part of the world” statement. That came from the IPCC report that lazily depended on an article in a popular science magazine originating from a little-known Indian source with questionable qualifications.

The root of the Himalaya glacier hysteria

Apparently someone misread something:

According to Prof Graham Cogley (Trent University, Ontario), a short article on the future of glaciers by a Russian scientist (Kotlyakov, V.M., 1996, The future of glaciers under the expected climate warming, 61-66, in Kotlyakov, V.M., ed., 1996, Variations of Snow and Ice in the Past and at Present on a Global and Regional Scale, Technical Documents in Hydrology, 1. UNESCO, Paris (IHP-IV Project H-4.1). 78p estimates 2350 as the year for disappearance of glaciers, but the IPCC authors misread 2350 as 2035 in the Official IPCC documents, WGII 2007 p. 493!

I would have commented on the other thread but apparently the comments are closed.

[moved to this thread by admin]

Himalayan Glaciers

It is said that these glaciers feed rivers in India.
If the temperatures at the locations of the glaciers were to fall enough to virtually stop glacial melt the effect on the rivers they currently feed would be the same as if the glaciers ceased to exist.
In neither case would the glaciers be feeding the rivers.
Is the possible cessation of melting seen as a cataclysmic event?

It's funny how everyone just

It's funny how everyone just blames the government. How are they making money on global warming? Selling T-shirts? Oh... saying that global warming is caused by fossil fuel burning so we'll stop buying gasoline. I get it. Not. Come on, the fraudulent government argument can be twisted anyway to suit someone and is a little over-played; try to get more creative. And "trust what you see through your own eyes and not by the eyes of someone else" - so if you don't see something yourself, then you shouldn't believe it? You're saying you've seen Jesus with your own eyes and he told you that directly in front of you? Or, you just believe he existed because other people saw him and wrote about it in some book. I mean, do you even think about your arguments before you present them?

bunch of morons

It may have been "frigin cold" where you are/were last week but in the Mediterranean region, North Africa, parts of Canada and parts of the far East it was up to 10 degrees C above normal. Weather is short term and local, climate is long-term and global. If you want to reach conclusions merely by what you "see through your own eyes" you will have to look all over the world at the same time - like climatologists do. And calling people rude names doesn't further your argument, if anything it just makes you look silly and shallow-thinking.

Keep it civil, please

Please, there is enough rancor in the public climate debate—on both sides—let's keep it civil and informative. And I agree that weather or short term temperature trends do not constitute any proof of changes in climate or longer term trends. Both sides of the debate have pointed to hot and cold years, months and days with glee, saying “see, our side is right!” Both sides are wrong to do this but, since the public can feel a heat wave or a record cold snap, such claims will continue to make the news.

Melting glacier

Informative vid on the increased melt rate of the Urumqi No1 Glacier at 2008.

Whether the climate will change or not, our acidifying ocean is evidence of global-scale biogeochemical change to our life-support system.

We are responsible. We understand the biogeochemical changes of mass deforestation combined with global combustion of fossil fuels - in a very short period.

It's illogical to wait for 3 centuries to say..."now we have long-term data proving global warming started 3 centuries ago".

The point of taking urgent remedial action now is to try and counteract additional negative biogeochemical changes - the quicker, the better.


You need to check the recent research on ocean carbon dioxide absorption and the response of marine life to elevated CO2 levels in the past. Specifically "Ocean CO2 Storage Revised" and "Marine Life Survived 8X Current CO2 Levels." As our listing in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy put it, humanity is "mostly harmless."

Cold glaciers also a problem?

It is possible that cooler weather could reduce glacial run-off to the rivers they feed. But, as was stated in the article, glacier melt contributes only 3% to 4% of the Ganges's annual flow. Either temperature extreme would probably not severely impact water in the region, which is primarily dependent on monsoon rains.

Many things have an impact.

Glacial conditions can also change according to time of year that precipitation falls. If, for example, you have two periods of time with equal precipitation and it falls mainly in winter as snow during one period but as rain in summer in another, the glacier will respond differently. In the first case you might get glacial advance and in the second get glacial retreat with no change in average annual temperature.

The amount of precipitation is also critical. If you have prolonged drought, the glacier will not advance as rapidly. A period of increased precipitation will be seen as a pulse of movement at the termination of the glacier some years after the event.

A glacier is not just a thermometer. It responds to temperature but also precipitation amount and the nature of the precipitation. So you can not look at advance or retreat and state that it is a reflection of only temperature.

Ice movement factors

Thanks for your comment. Certainly the dynamics of glacial growth and contraction depend on a number of factors besides temperature. It has been found that glacial flows have a tendency to speed up and slow down in a cyclic fashion. In a recent paper on the Greenland ice sheet it was stated that different parts of the ice sheet showed different mechanisms at work. In the north “mass loss is equally distributed between surface processes and ice discharge.” Furthermore, “surface mass losses represent increased runoff, moderated by above-normal snowfall.” See “Partitioning Recent Greenland Mass Loss” for details.

New PNSA Paper

Survival of Tibetan Glaciers: New PNAS paper on black soot & Himalayan glaciers is available at http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2009/12/07/0910444106.full.pdf+html

A discussion of it is on the GISS web site at http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/briefs/hansen_14/

Soot on Ice

The first link is to an early posting of a PNAS paper by a number of authors and the second is to a GISS “Science Brief” by the notorious James Hansen, who is also one of the papers authors. The brief is not so much a discussion as it is a recap and amplification of the paper results. They provide some interesting information, once one considers the source and filters out the reflexive obeisance to AGW dogma. The paper's abstract reads as follows:

We find evidence that black soot aerosols deposited on Tibetan glaciers have been a significant contributing factor to observed rapid glacier retreat. Reduced black soot emissions, in addition to reduced greenhouse gases, may be required to avoid demise of Himalayan glaciers and retain the benefits of glaciers for seasonal fresh water supplies.

So here is evidence that spreading black soot on top of ice and snow can cause it to melt more rapidly. The source of the soot is linked to “diesel engines, coal use without effective scrubbers, and biomass burning, including cook stoves.” I have often railed against the use of coal, the dirtiest and most dangerous energy source on the planet, and have suggested that bringing modern energy sources to the developing world will make the air cleaner, so I'm in partial agreement with the authors here. When the threat of global cooling arises again in the future suggestions to spread soot on glaciers will no doubt resurface.

The paper concludes rather optimistically “scenarios with dramatic climate change are not inevitable,” further stating, “an alternative scenario, which stabilizes global temperature at a level near the range of the Holocene, requires reduction of the major human-made climate-forcing agents that have a warming effect, including black soot as well as the greenhouse gases.” Not your normal doomsday scenario found in the popular media, even if they do always tag on a warning about those evil greenhouse gasses. Even Hansen commenting on his own states that “prospects for survival of Tibetan glaciers can be much improved by reducing black soot emissions.” Considering that GISS is anthropogenic global warming central and Hansen the high priest of the cult of climate change, the conclusions presented here are surprisingly mild.


What exactly are the merits of a paper that proposes a mechanism for an effect that isn't being observed? Mildly worded perhaps, but also completely irrelevant?

Oh, the hubris...

I am envisioning ants on an elephant, imagining that their actions determine the actions of the pachyderm...

"...an alternative scenario, which stabilizes global temperature at a level near the range of the Holocene, requires..."

This is so egocentric it is unbelievable. The paper's authors presume to themselves that there is a gas pedal and a brake pedal for the global temperature and that they know where these pedals are and how to apply them - and will know exactly when to do so.

They've been studying this area of inquiry for, what? 30 years? maybe 40 years tops? Hell, these ants can't even gather data properly yet, much less put the pieces together into a decent gestalt, and they think they know how to drive the elephant?

I don't know which is more ridiculous - their exaggerated hubris or their monumental stupidity.

Global warming is such a

Global warming is such a hoax. I can't belive it. So many people just want to think that the earth is changing so they can feel good about using horrible chemicals to reduce carbon. Thanks for the article.


That's a strong word, although I somewhat agree. I know this...I'm in Ohio and we have had a ton of snow this Winter. Doesn't seem like the globe is warming very much!

Thanks for the pics , just

Thanks for the pics , just great :P