New science on Himalayan glaciers shows debris fields to be a regulating factor in melting

Himalayan glaciers not melting because of climate change, report finds

The key factor affecting the advance or retreat of the Karakoram glaciers is the amount of debris strewn on their surface. The Passu glacier in the Karakorum region of Pakistan Photo: ALAMY

Himalayan glaciers not melting because of climate change, report finds

Himalayan glaciers are actually advancing rather than retreating, claims the first major study since a controversial UN report said they would be melted within quarter of a century.

From the Telegraph By Dean Nelson, New Delhi and Richard Alleyne

Researchers have discovered that contrary to popular belief half of the ice flows in the Karakoram range of the mountains are actually growing rather than shrinking.

The discovery adds a new twist to the row over whether global warming is causing the world’s highest mountain range to lose its ice cover.

It further challenges claims made in a 2007 report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that the glaciers would be gone by 2035.

Full story at the Telegraph here, (h/t to many readers) below is the science behind the story.


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From University of California, Santa Barbara: Scientists Find that Debris on Certain Himalayan Glaciers May Prevent Melting

(Santa Barbara, Calif.) –– A new scientific study shows that debris coverage –– pebbles, rocks, and debris from surrounding mountains –– may be a missing link in the understanding of the decline of glaciers. Debris is distinct from soot and dust, according to the scientists.

Melting of glaciers in the Himalayan Mountains affects water supplies for hundreds of millions of people living in South and Central Asia. Experts have stated that global warming is a key element in the melting of glaciers worldwide.

Bodo Bookhagen, assistant professor in the Department of Geography at UC Santa Barbara, co-authored a paper on this topic in Nature Geoscience, published this week. The first author is Dirk Scherler, Bookhagen’s graduate student from Germany, who performed part of this research while studying at UCSB.

“With the aid of new remote-sensing methods and satellite images, we identified debris coverage to be an important contributor to glacial advance and retreat behaviors,” said Bookhagen. “This parameter has been almost completely neglected in previous Himalayan and other mountainous region studies, although its impact has been known for some time.”

The finding is one more element in a worldwide political controversy involving global warming. “Controversy about the current state and future evolution of Himalayan glaciers has been stirred up by erroneous reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC),” according to the paper.

“There is no ‘stereotypical’ Himalayan glacier,” said Bookhagen. “This is in clear contrast to the IPCC reports that lumps all Himalayan glaciers together.”

Bookhagen noted that glaciers in the Karakoram region of Northwestern Himalaya are mostly stagnating. However, glaciers in the Western, Central, and Eastern Himalaya are retreating, with the highest retreat rates –– approximately 8 meters per year –– in the Western Himalayan Mountains. The authors found that half of the studied glaciers in the Karakoram region are stable or advancing, whereas about two-thirds are in retreat elsewhere throughout High Asia. This is in contrast to the prevailing notion that all glaciers in the tropics are retreating.

<a href= #description>Full description below. †</a>

Crevasses of a steep glacier in the Sutlej Valley of the Western Himalaya. This glacier has a debris-covered toe. credit: Bodo Bookhagen, UCSB

Bookhagen explained the difference between debris and coverage by soot and dust on glaciers: “The debris cover has the opposite effect of soot and dust on glaciers. Debris coverage thickness above 2 centimeters, or about a half an inch, ‘shields’ the glacier and prevents melting. This is the case for many Himalayan glaciers that are surrounded by towering mountains that almost continuously shed pebbles, debris, and rocks onto the glacier.”

Thus, glaciers in the steep Himalaya are not only affected by temperature and precipitation, but also by debris coverage, and have no uniform and less predictable response, explained the authors. The debris coverage may be one of the missing links to creating a more coherent picture of glacial behavior throughout all mountains. The scientists contrast this Himalayan glacial study with glaciers from the gently dipping, low-relief Tibetan Plateau that have no debris coverage. Those glaciers behave in a different way, and their frontal changes can be explained by temperature and precipitation changes.

Bookhagen described results of another of his recent studies on this topic. He said that one of the key findings was that the Western Himalaya, including the Indus catchment and regions in Northern Pakistan and Northwestern India, depend heavily on seasonal snow and glacial melt waters, while Central Himalayan regions –– Western India and Nepal –– mostly depend on monsoonal rainfall.

<a href= #description>Full description below. ††</a>

Bodo Bookhagen working with a lidar device that his group uses for detecting changes in the landscape, including on snow fields and glaciers. Click for larger image


The smaller seasonal water storage space in the Central Himalaya, which has only steep glaciers and no large snow fields, makes this region much more vulnerable to shifts in monsoonal strength and to glacial melting, explained Bookhagen. River discharge in these regions is crucial to sustain agriculture, hydropower, and drinking water. If the Indian monsoon season is weaker because of global atmospheric changes such as El Niño, then Central Nepal must primarily rely on water coming from the seasonal melting of glaciers and the small amount of snowmelt that is available.

“Retreating glaciers, and thus a reduction of seasonal water storage in this region, have a large impact on hundreds of millions of people living in the downstream section of these rivers,” said Bookhagen. “The mitigation and adaptation strategies in the Himalaya Mountains thus need to take into account the spatial climatic and topographic variability. There is no regional solution, but only different local strategies to the future water shortage. The geographic setting of High Asia poses political difficulties as future water treaties need to be carefully evaluated.”

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99 thoughts on “New science on Himalayan glaciers shows debris fields to be a regulating factor in melting

  1. Forgive my ignorance, but wouldn’t the covering of debris reduce the albedo effect, and the larger debris act as heat islands after a day’s sun, both leading to an increase in melting?

  2. I had the same thought as grumpy old man though I’m a tail end baby boomer (too young yet to be old).

  3. Grumpy: The debris layer acts as insulation. The effect also occurs in ground temperature.

    In western Canada, for instance, the ground temperature below 2 meters, is a very good approximation to the average yearly temperature (about 40 deg F).

    The upper soil acts a blanket. As long as there are no longer term changes, the underlying temperature stays constant.

    The same principle would apply to glaciers. Besides acting as a blanket, and regulating temperature to the year round average, debris would also eliminate sublimation from direct sunlight.

  4. I should have mentioned…

    It may be like permafrost. If the average temperature stays below freezing, then the permafrost (glacier) doesn’t melt.

    MikeEE

  5. It would depend on the nature of the debris, most high Himalayan rocks are sedimentary, and many are carbonates, these are light colored. Also at altitudes where Himalayan glaciers are found, the night time temperatures would be pretty low in high summer, so debris could easily act as an insulator, protecting the ice from daytime melting.

    I am no expert on the Himalayas, but these would be my first hypotheses

  6. The statement “Himalayan glaciers are actually advancing rather than retreating” doesn’t appear in either the press release by the university or the abstract of the paper in the science journal.

    This appears to be the Telegraph’s interpretation which does not seem to be sufficiently born out by the evidence to be made the one feature that is pulled out as a sub-headline.

    It’s a good news story – we’re getting better understanding of what does and does not influence glacier melt. To headline it to imply that no glaciers in the Himalayas are melting is misleading as the press release clearly states “Bookhagen noted that glaciers in the Karakoram region of Northwestern Himalaya are mostly stagnating. However, glaciers in the Western, Central, and Eastern Himalaya are retreating, with the highest retreat rates –– approximately 8 meters per year –– in the Western Himalayan Mountains”.

  7. Actually scientists have known the Glaciers in this area have been expanding since the 1990’s

    The Karakoram Anomaly? Glacier Expansion and the ‘Elevation Effect,’ Karakoram Himalaya

    Abstract
    In the late 1990s widespread evidence of glacier expansion was found in the central Karakoram, in contrast to a worldwide decline of mountain glaciers. The expansions were almost exclusively in glacier basins from the highest parts of the range and developed quickly after decades of decline.

    http://www.bioone.org/doi/abs/10.1659/0276-4741(2005)025%5B0332:TKAGEA%5D2.0.CO;2?cookieSet=1&prevSearch=

    But of course it’s not the only area where Glaciers didn’t get the memo from the IPCC

    Program Overview/Why Study Hubbard Glacier?

    Hubbard Glacier is the largest tidewater glacier on the North American continent. It has been thickening and advancing toward the Gulf of Alaska since it was first mapped by the International Boundary Commission in 1895 (Davidson, 1903).

    http://ak.water.usgs.gov/glaciology/hubbard/

    Now what does the USGS say is the most important thing when dealing with Glacier Advance and Retreat?

    This is in stark contrast with most glaciers, which have thinned and retreated during the last century. This atypical behavior is an important example of the calving glacier cycle in which glacier advance and retreat is controlled more by the mechanics of terminus calving than by climate fluctuations.

    I guess the USGS also didn’t get the IPCC memo that Climate Change is the cause of everything.

  8. “This parameter has been almost completely neglected in previous Himalayan and other mountainous region studies, although its impact has been known for some time.”

    I beg to disagree, there are plenty of previous studies in mountain regions:
    http://iahs.info/redbooks/264-authors.htm
    I think we should make a difference between what the IPCC says about glaciers and what actual glaciologists do.

    Grumpy Old Man says:
    January 27, 2011 at 2:56 am

    Forgive my ignorance, but wouldn’t the covering of debris reduce the albedo effect, and the larger debris act as heat islands after a day’s sun, both leading to an increase in melting?

    The debris get warmer, but if the layer is thick enough the ice underneath is insulated and the melt reduced.

  9. Fascinating. For comparison, a quick look at Google earth shows the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets as pristine white with almost no debris, according to the satellite imagery.

  10. Anthony Watts says:

    Researchers have discovered that contrary to popular belief half of the ice flows in the Karakoram range of the mountains are actually growing rather than shrinking.

    No they haven’t. From the press release that you quote in full: “The authors found that half of the studied glaciers in the Karakoram region are stable or advancing”

    Half are actually retreating, of the remaining 50% only some of them are actually growing.

    Anthony Wattssays:

    The discovery adds a new twist to the row over whether global warming is causing the world’s highest mountain range to lose its ice cover.

    What it actually does is provide an explanation for an anomaly already noted in The IPCC’s Forth Assessment: “Whereas glaciers in the Asian high mountains have generally shrunk at varying rates (Su and Shi, 2002; Ren et al., 2004; Solomina et al., 2004; Dyurgerov and Meier, 2005), several high glaciers in the central Karakoram are reported to have advanced and/or thickened at their tongues (Hewitt, 2005), probably due to enhanced precipitation. “

    REPLY: You might want to see who’s saying what before quoting. That’s the Telegraph article, not me. I provided the press release so that people could read exactly what was learned, so please don’t try to m make it look like I’m saying something I did not. – Anthony

  11. Obviously the Himalayan glaciers are ‘deniers’ in the pay of Big Oil and should not be referred to again in climate discussions.

  12. The debris prevets sun’s rays from hitting the ice directly. The debris heats up, but it looses most of the heat to the cold atmosphere and transmits only a small part to the ice.

  13. Grumpy Old Man: I think the words “‘shields’ the glacier” should be replaced with “‘insulates’ the glacier”.

  14. OT – but take a look at the Aqua Channel 5v2 tropospheric temperatures. They’ve fallen off the map. January 24th shows 1.15F below this date last year. Will be interesting to see the January UAH Temperature update.

  15. Kevin MacDonald says:
    January 27, 2011 at 4:04 am …..

    Of course, if you had bothered to follow the links, or even read the post properly, you would have found that this is “from the Telegraph By Dean Nelson, New Delhi and Richard Alleyne” and not what “Anthony Watts says”.

    .

  16. This bit of information re: debris is not really that new, I read a paper last year or maybe the year before, that was suggesting using debris to:

    1) Protect Glaciers
    2) Grow them a bit
    3) Even Create them scratch

    Sadly, given all the Stuff that’s been written since, I’m having a little trouble googling it. Does, this ring any bells with anyone else? Anyone got a link perhaps?

  17. I walked up this very glacier, the Baltero, about ten years ago.

    The debris layer is very thick, at least half a meter, even on the upper reaches of the glacier, and very rarely do you ever walk on any ice – only when there are folds and crevaces. Most of the rubble rocks are red sandstone-limestones. The surface of the glacier is a bit like Mars. Lower sections are highly distorted and difficult to climb, while the upper section is flat and like walking on a boulder-covered beach (most of the boulders are in the 30-40 cm range, but there is obviously a lot of gravel and many man-sized boulders ).

    Our guide pointed out that the main glacier had retreated, but as we went up, he also pointed out all the sub-glaciers that had advanced. More than half were advancing, apparently.

    Daytime temperatures were burning hot, even in September, but being a steep valley the sun-time was very short, and the nights were very cold (Anthony will recognise the classic Katobatic airflow). I was surprised to find crows and geese able to fly there, at 20,000 feet. Even the Pakistani army helicopters were struggling at that altitude (with the crews on oxygen) so I was surprised that birds could cope.

    .

  18. The headline, and lead:

    “Himalayan glaciers not melting because of climate change, report finds

    Himalayan glaciers are actually advancing rather than retreating, claims the first major study since a controversial UN report said they would be melted within quarter of a century.” ,

    are not justified by the text of the press release from the University. What I read is that a portion of the glaciers in the Himalaya’s are not retreating because they are insulated by debris. The majority of glaciers are retreating. The press release does not contradict the idea that climate change is melting glaciers.

  19. I’m sorry but, after reading this, there something missing from the report, either by bad editing or incomplete reporting regarding glacial melt, snow cover, and the water supply. For instance, the report says:
    The smaller seasonal water storage space in the Central Himalaya, which has only steep glaciers and no large snow fields, makes this region much more vulnerable to shifts in monsoonal strength and to glacial melting, explained Bookhagen. River discharge in these regions is crucial to sustain agriculture, hydropower, and drinking water. If the Indian monsoon season is weaker because of global atmospheric changes such as El Niño, then Central Nepal must primarily rely on water coming from the seasonal melting of glaciers and the small amount of snowmelt that is available.
    “Retreating glaciers, and thus a reduction of seasonal water storage in this region, have a large impact on hundreds of millions of people living in the downstream section of these rivers…”

    Is the report saying that there is less snow falling in certain areas? Just what is meant by smaller seasonal water storage space—does not, for example, a 100 sq mile Himalayan mountain range have MORE surface area (space) than 100 sq miles of plains? Does the fact that it is steep mean that it gets less snowfall? Wouldn’t snow accumulate more at valley bottoms than on the slopes because of this physiographic fact? Then again, maybe it’s just me…

  20. Sue: While you are correct that Kevin made an attribution error, the facts he provides are quite relevant and expose the Telegraph’s distortions. And it is clear AW quoted this material sympathetically.

  21. Perfect! We can allay the fears of our alarmist friends by throwing a bunch of light colored rocks on top of all the glaciers…….fixed. Now go fixate on something else.

    As to the worry about running out of water, I promise, and I think I can speak for the rest of us here, I promise to recycle every ounce of water I use for future use by others. Now, if the alarmists could just be as warm hearted and nice as the skeptics, we wouldn’t have to worry about water.

  22. Sue Smith says:
    January 27, 2011 at 5:47 am

    Of course, if you had bothered to follow the links, or even read the post properly, you would have found that this is “from the Telegraph By Dean Nelson, New Delhi and Richard Alleyne” and not what “Anthony Watts says”.

    In an earlier article entitled Skeptical Science? John Cook – embarrassing himself, Watt’s defended wrongly attributing comments to Cook thusly: REPLY: I’m aware of this, but as people routinely point out to me, I’m responsible for my own blog content. The fact that Cook allows this in any main post is the issue. – Anthony”

    Ever since I’ve felt comfortable attributing every piece of nonsense that appears here to Anthony.

    Further, irrespective of source, the article is still pure bunkum.

    REPLY: Well then, ever since this comment, I’m comfortable automatically attributing every comment of yours to the bit bucket – Anthony

  23. The article is in Nature Geoscience:

    Controversy about the current state and future evolution of Himalayan glaciers has been stirred up by erroneous statements in the fourth report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change1, 2. Variable retreat rates3, 4, 5, 6 and a paucity of glacial mass-balance data7, 8 make it difficult to develop a coherent picture of regional climate-change impacts in the region. Here, we report remotely-sensed frontal changes and surface velocities from glaciers in the greater Himalaya between 2000 and 2008 that provide evidence for strong spatial variations in glacier behaviour which are linked to topography and climate. More than 65% of the monsoon-influenced glaciers that we observed are retreating, but heavily debris-covered glaciers with stagnant low-gradient terminus regions typically have stable fronts. Debris-covered glaciers are common in the rugged central Himalaya, but they are almost absent in subdued landscapes on the Tibetan Plateau, where retreat rates are higher. In contrast, more than 50% of observed glaciers in the westerlies-influenced Karakoram region in the northwestern Himalaya are advancing or stable. Our study shows that there is no uniform response of Himalayan glaciers to climate change and highlights the importance of debris cover for understanding glacier retreat, an effect that has so far been neglected in predictions of future water availability9, 10 or global sea level11.

  24. Anthony – when you said above “REPLY: Well then, ever since this comment, I’m comfortable automatically attributing every comment of yours to the bit bucket – Anthony” it sort of invalidates one of the more common reasons for the praise your site receives such as “unlike WUWT, un-’skeptical science’ deletes any comments that it considers to be ‘inflammatory” ” from http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/09/27/skeptical-science-john-cook-embarrassing-himself/#comment-492731

    I don’t think most posters here were aware of your policy of automatically binning (banning) commenters that you disagree with.

    [Louise that simply isn't true and you know it. Anthony only "bans" in extremis and only when it is obvious trolling or down right insulting to some or many. The tolerance for different points of view here is quite extensive but those who step over the bounds of good taste and good manners get binned. Sometimes for a while and if the poster is persistently "outside the rabbit proof fence" they are banned. In my time here that has happened less than five times and judging by the leeway given to all this site epitomizes tolerance . . . stop it]

  25. Warmists seem to have a tendency to latch onto warming temperature as the only reason for Himalayan glacier retreat. They deliberately ignore soot, precipiation, debris etc.

    Lawrence Berkeley National Labs – 3 Feb. 2010
    “Black Carbon a Significant Factor in Melting of Himalayan Glaciers”
    “Our simulations showed greenhouse gases alone are not nearly enough to be responsible for the snow melt,” says Menon, a physicist and staff scientist in Berkeley Lab’s Environmental Energy Technologies Division. “Most of the change in snow and ice cover—about 90 percent—is from aerosols. Black carbon alone contributes at least 30 percent of this sum.”

    Menon and her collaborators used two sets of aerosol inventories by Indian researchers to run their simulations; their results were published online in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics……………Menon’s study also found that black carbon affects precipitation and is a major factor in triggering extreme weather in eastern India and Bangladesh, where cyclones, hurricanes and flooding are common. It also contributes to the decrease in rainfall over central India.

    http://newscenter.lbl.gov/feature-stories/2010/02/03/black-carbon-himalayan-glaciers/

    ——

    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.

    http://www.theresilientearth.com/?q=content/himalayan-glaciers-not-melting

  26. “However, glaciers in the Western, Central, and Eastern Himalaya are retreating, with the highest retreat rates –– approximately 8 meters per year –– in the Western Himalayan Mountains. The authors found that half of the studied glaciers in the Karakoram region are stable or advancing, whereas about two-thirds are in retreat elsewhere throughout High Asia.”

    If I remember correctly there’s more than 30 000 glaciers on the Chinese side alone, and out of the 100 000 plus known glaciers registered in the whole world only some 5000 have been visited and at least partly measured, so how many glaciers did they really study to draw a generalized conclusion that includes all tens of thousands of glaciers in the Himalaya?

    Or did they just do what seems to be the most common denominator visit only a handful of glaciers and then call it the day?

  27. “Melting of glaciers in the Himalayan Mountains affects water supplies for hundreds of millions of people living in South and Central Asia. Experts have stated that global warming is a key element in the melting of glaciers worldwide.”

    Yay! More water for people in South and Central Asia if there is global warming!

  28. “REPLY: Well then, ever since this comment, I’m comfortable automatically attributing every comment of yours to the bit bucket” – Anthony

    ========================================================

    Anthony, I wouldn’t worry about it too much. People can see the game he’s playing. It simply reaffirms the smallish character of the typical warmista. I think it is a good thing to display their mentality in their own words. But, its your site.

    Cheers.

  29. So let me see if I understand this correctly.
    1. Glaciation is complex with many factors unknown or poorly understood.
    2. One can attempt to “model” glacial behaviour simplistically by including certain variables while excluding variables the modeller doesn’t understand or doesn’t accept.
    3. Models of this nature will almost certainly lead to erroneous results.
    4. Simplistic models of complex systems are highly prone to confirmation bias (at best) or fraud (at worst).

    This is very disturbing and I hope it doesn’t occur in any other areas of science, particularly where large sums of money and dramatic policy recommendations are involved.

  30. Louise says:
    January 27, 2011 at 7:51 am
    Blah-blah………

    The fact that you can say it, disproves your conjecture. But keep it up, maybe you, too, can become an exception:-)

  31. Oh great, you know that there will now be biblical flooding in these regions that “will know future water shortage.” These scientists should go to the Sahara and cry about how dry it is and by year’s end, voila, rain forest.

  32. Isn’t somebody going to write to Mr Pachauri to ask him to give his grant money back, now that someone else has done the work?

  33. No doubt Louise and Kevin MacDonald would be happier posting with the other adolescents at the Global Warming Superheroes blog.☺

  34. It further challenges claims made in a 2007 report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that the glaciers would be gone by 2035.

    Although the IPCC has officially admitted that this claim had the procedural problem of not being based directly on a primary reference, a close reading of its statement on the matter reveals no admission that the claim is actually wrong (as it is).

  35. A team from Ohio State University studied this phenomenon in the 1960s on Alaskan glaciers in the wake of debris avalanches triggered by the Great Alaska Earthquake.

  36. That first photo of the Passu Glacier, in the Karakoram could easily be a photo of either the Fox or Franz Joseph Glaciers in New Zealand. They have the same ‘canyon trapped’ siting, with high walls to shed rocks and stuff.

    As for the albedo effect of glaciers; particularly non-polar (Antarctic) glaciers; their reflectance is not all that it is cracked up to be. There’s considerable snow and ice optical data in The InfraRed Handbook; the Military has a vested interest in knowing the optical properties of such terrains; well other terrains as well. To be more specific, they like their weapons to know about those terrains.
    For example, I found this data relating to aging of snow surfaces. Tests run at three ages from fresh fallen 14 hours, 44 hours, and 70 hours. For the visible to about 1.1 microns the 14 hour snow has around 85 +/-5 % reflectance, with source and detector at +/-5 deg from normal (to surface) That drops to 55% for 1.2-1.4 microns, then tanks at about 5% at 1.5 microns, and then oscillates with peaks at 1.85 and 2.25 microns of about 20% and 15% respectively.
    This pattern repeats but at a lower level for the 44 hour snow, averaging 60+/-5% to start, dropping to 405 from 1.1 o 1.2 microns. The 70 hour snow is a tad above 40+/-5% at the short end, and is under 20% at that first 1.1-1.2 plateau, and is under 1% at 1.5 microns. That whole spectral range from visible out to 2.5 microns is where about 98% of the total solar energy lies; m,aybe 97%. Equally illuminating; pun intended, the snow density at 14 hours was 0.097 g/cm^3 rising to 0.104 at 44 hours, and then leaping to 0.347 at 70 hours.

    I have the original paper citing:-H.W. Obrien, et al; “Red and Near Infra-red Spectral Reflectance of snow” U.S.Army Cold Region Research and Engineering Laboratory, Hanover NH CREEL (AD-A007732), 1975

    See I don’t have to make this stuff up; somebody else already made it up for me.

    So what is happening of course is that initially the snow (ice crystal) surface is highly scattering, and that high angle scattering masquerades as reflectance, even though water has relatively low reflectance. But light does get down in the crevices and voids in the snow, and gets trapped, so there is some energy absorption and surface melting. Once the crystalline surface melts, then it becomes much more optically transparent, and the light can now freely enter; and then the mayhem commences, because you now get TIR (Total Internal Reflection) trapping, which increases the absorption and melting.

    It turns out that subalpine open slopes, and deserts, as well as yucca and sagebrush have spectral reflectances in the red and near IR region that can be as high as60% for the rocks, and 40% for the plants, and in the case of the plants the reflectances hold up better out to 2.0 microns.

    So I wouldn’t be surprised to find that some of those glacial debris pebbles and rocks, could have as high or higher reflectances as the aged snow and ice. I’ll try to find some specific rock data.

    Snow tends to look so bright, because it is such a diffuse reflectance (scattering), so it looks at you from all directions, and it scatters a very broad (visible light) spectral range. Rocks are a bit more spectrally selective. That Sierra Nevada Granite looks a nice gray; about like the Eastman Kodak standard 18% gray target. I assume its granite; but I’m no geologer, so I tend to take too much for granite !

  37. Louise that simply isn’t true and you know it. Anthony only “bans” in extremis and only when it is obvious trolling or down right insulting to some or many.

    And using evidence to show that a piece of reportage is junk constitutes trolling and insulting around these parts does it? Colour me stunned.

    REPLY: No, in your case it is purposely and willfully misquoting me, even when your error is pointed out, by your own words, you will continue. It’s one thing to disagree, it’s quite another to create a lie of attribution, and continue the lie of attribution when called on it, simply because you disagree. So yes, you are a troll.

    And in the issue you cite above, complaining that I made a mistake of attribution, you conveniently neglect to point out that as soon as I was aware of it, I corrected it, and attributed it to John Bruno:

    Addendum: I should add that what is doubly insulting to me is that the author of the content on John Cook’s website, John Bruno, came up to me after my presentation in Brisbane, where he acted as compatriot to Ove Hoegh-Guldberg (which John Bruno runs the website “climateshifts” of) who made a fool of himself by abusing his rights as an audience member. Bruno told me how he respected my tone and my right to say it. He also said to me that I seemed “more open” than other people he’s talked to that are on the skeptical side.

    You on the other want to willfully continue, and that’s the problem and that why you are binned now. Whether you get out of the bin is up to you and how you behave in the future.

    – Anthony

  38. Jeepers, some of these comments are just getting downright nasty. The flavour generated is bordering on the uncivil and hostile atmosphere of typical warmist sites.

    How about we just talk about the merits or otherwise of the report’s findings? The main one being that thick debris cover slows down glacial retreat and is another variable in understanding glacial behaviour. I wonder if the report quantifies this at all.

    Our study shows that there is no uniform response of Himalayan glaciers to climate change and highlights the importance of debris cover for understanding glacier retreat, an effect that has so far been neglected in predictions of future water availability9, 10 or global sea level11.

    Seems to say the predictions are wrong.

  39. “”””” Jimbo says:
    January 27, 2011 at 7:55 am
    Warmists seem to have a tendency to latch onto warming temperature as the only reason for Himalayan glacier retreat. They deliberately ignore soot, precipiation, debris etc.

    Lawrence Berkeley National Labs – 3 Feb. 2010
    “Black Carbon a Significant Factor in Melting of Himalayan Glaciers”
    “Our simulations showed greenhouse gases alone are not nearly enough to be responsible for the snow melt,” says Menon, a physicist and staff scientist in Berkeley Lab’s Environmental Energy Technologies Division. “Most of the change in snow and ice cover—about 90 percent—is from aerosols. Black carbon alone contributes at least 30 percent of this sum.” “””””

    There’s that simulation word again. So has anybody ever knowingly met up with some black carbon while trudging around on snow; or even glaciers. Yes I’ve seen plenty of “dirt” on the glaciers I’ve been on; not much that I could declare was carbon; well black carbon that is; haven’t seen any white (clear) carbon on glaciers either.

    But I can see how “black” materials can absorb heat; more so with smaller particle sizes (more projected area per mass). Those heated particles then burrow their way into the snow/ice, and are pretty soon hidden; so it is is not as if they are a long term heat absorber; but yes they obviously melt some snow initially.

  40. So once you filter out the Telegraph re-write….
    Glaciers in the Western, Central, and Eastern Himalaya are retreating, about 2/3 are retreating over most of the Himalayan area except for glaciers in steep valleys in the Karakoram region of Northwestern Himalaya.
    There ‘only’ half are retreating, the other half are stagnating or advancing.

    So half are retreating in this region and less than half are advancing.
    In the rest of the Himalaya two thirds are retreating.

    The finding that a small minority of Himalaya glaciers may be advancing, and surface debris could be a factor in thsi is stated to be significant because –
    “This is in contrast to the prevailing notion that all glaciers in the tropics are retreating.”

    I wonder WHOSE ‘prevailing notion’ this is. Not the researcher who study the mass balance of glacier and ice fields. I doubt any would claim that ALL glaciers or ice fields are losing mass, just that the overall average in any region is negative.

    Perhaps the ‘prevailing notion that all glaciers in the tropics are retreating’ is a strawman chosen to enhance the apparent significance of the research. Especially the novel aspect of it, the possible role of debris in protecting from surface melt the small minority of steep valley glaciers advancing.

  41. “”””” (Santa Barbara, Calif.) –– A new scientific study shows that debris coverage –– pebbles, rocks, and debris from surrounding mountains –– may be a missing link in the understanding of the decline of glaciers. Debris is distinct from soot and dust, according to the scientists. “””””

    Seems like a pretty innocuous statement to me. Says “maybe” “understanding” “decline of glaciers”, etc and as I read it they don’t seem to suggest that “most” glaciers are advancing; their wording definitely leaves me with receding glaciers up front and center; but NOT all of them; and they make a plausible case why some of them aren’t.

    I’ve got good solid actual physically measured data in front of me that says that snow ain’t that good of a reflector compared to other terrains; well at least not as good as its popular reputation. I’m not going to argue that glacial regions aren’t generally in retreat. I think that always happens when earth emerges from an ice age; and likely continues till it enters into another one.

  42. This is good work, it seems to me. When glaciergate first came up, it was pointed out that although glaciers in the Himalayan east and south were retreating (but would certainly be around for more than 35 years!), glaciers in the Karakoram area were stable or even growing.

    Now we begin to see why: in the Karakorams, the glaciers run in steep valleys, and they grind down the sides of the mountains, the detritus of which falls onto the glaciers as debris fields that serves as insulation and retards melting.

    So that is apparently why glaciers elsewhere in the Himalayas are retreating (not ALL glaciers elsewhere, though) — a little more warmth, a little more melting. The world is getting warmer, the satellite data tell us that, so it makes sense that glaciers not insulated by debris would shrink.

    The issue isn’t whether we are warming, it is how fast we are warming and what will the consequences be of warming at the current rates for a few decades longer. The Tibetan Ice cap is shrinking. Is the rate of shrinkage of the ice cap, and of glaciers in the eastern and southern Himalayas, going to cause terrible harm if we don’t do something soon, as alarmists say? Or can this wait a bit longer until we have cheaper solutions, as Bjorn Lomborg proposes?

    FYI, there are glaciers (the Muldrow?) on the north side of Mt. McKinley in Alaska which have so much dirt on them, trees actually grow on the dirt that covers the glacier near the terminus. Don’t know the mechanism by which so much actual soil gets onto the glacier.

  43. I’m concerned about my impact on the environment. I heat my home with heating oil but am worried about what this is doing to the environment. I live in a rural area of lincolnshire so there’s not much alternative to heating my home with oil except wood and LPG… but I don’t know if this is even more harmful.

    I have just found a heating oil website who offer Group Buying Days, this seems like a great way to help the environment because you can order with others which helps to keep tankers off the roads more, reducing CO2 emissions.

    I would like to see more information on the internet about the effects of heating oil on the environment. On most climate change sites I go on there are articles on gas and electric heating but little on the effects of heating oil.

    Does anyone have any figures about heating oil and ways to minimize my impact on the environment?

  44. David L says:
    January 27, 2011 at 8:05 am
    Has anyone compiled a list of AGW “facts” that have turned out to be false?

    Yes David, it’s called the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report!

  45. REPLY: No, in your case it is purposely and willfully misquoting me, even when your error is pointed out, by your own words, you will continue. It’s one thing to disagree, it’s quite another to create a lie of attribution, and continue the lie of attribution when called on it, simply because you disagree. So yes, you are a troll.

    And in the issue you cite above, complaining that I made a mistake of attribution, you conveniently neglect to point out that as soon as I was aware of it, I corrected it, and attributed it to John Bruno:

    Addendum: I should add that what is doubly insulting to me is that the author of the content on John Cook’s website, John Bruno, came up to me after my presentation in Brisbane, where he acted as compatriot to Ove Hoegh-Guldberg (which John Bruno runs the website “climateshifts” of) who made a fool of himself by abusing his rights as an audience member. Bruno told me how he respected my tone and my right to say it. He also said to me that I seemed “more open” than other people he’s talked to that are on the skeptical side.

    You on the other want to willfully continue, and that’s the problem and that why you are binned now. Whether you get out of the bin is up to you and how you behave in the future.

    I wasn’t complaining about your “mistake of attribution” because I couldn’t be sure you’d made one. At the time you certainly didn’t admit to it, claiming you were justified in damning Cook with Bruno’s words:

    dana1981 says:
    September 27, 2010 at 8:43 am
    You should have paid more attention, Watts. The author of that article is John Bruno, an Associate Professor of Marine Ecology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

    http://www.climateshifts.org/?page_id=3850

    REPLY: I’m aware of this, but as people routinely point out to me, I’m responsible for my own blog content. The fact that Cook allows this in any main post is the issue. I’ve made a note in parenthesis to make it a bit clearer – Anthony

    My only aim in citing it was to show precedence for my own behaviour, and I fail to see how adopting a tactic endorsed by the sites owner can be described as trolling.

    REPLY: Well that’s where we differ. I admit and fix my error, you willfully create an error where none existed and continue with it for spite – Anthony

  46. In an attempt to increase the melt rate of the glaciers providing water to the Aral Sea (a long forgotten eco-disaster) the Soviets planned to spread soot.

    The error in all these comments and the original paper is that movement at the snout of the glacier is a function of plastic flow within the glacier and only marginally to the debris field at the snout. The snout is very dirty because material that falls on the ice is transported through the flowing plastic layers to emerge at the snout. There is a record of a Swiss soldier who fell into a crevasse emerging 400 years later at the snout.

    As long as the ice is deep enough (normally 50 m) then the ice in the lower layer becomes plastic under the pressure and heat created by the weight of the ice. Above this Plastic Layer of ice is the Brittle layer that cracks when the plastic layer flows over underlying rock protrusions or steps to create crevasses. As long as the conditions exist for the plastic layer to flow downhill then the glacier is advancing. If the delivery of ice to the snout is faster than the melt rate at the snout then the glacier is considered to be advancing. If it is less, then the glacier is said to be retreating. However, the Plastic Layer is still flowing down slope. I explain that glaciers don’t retreat, they advance to the rear.

    The rate at which the plastic flow moves is primarily determined by the depth of the ice, which is in turn determined by the snowfall above what is called the Firn Line. So glaciers advance and retreat is as much determined by changing snowfall as it is by melt rate at the snout.

    The other major mechanism for a glacier to advance is a change in the basal melt rate. A thin layer of water exists between the bottom of the ice and the bedrock. If this layer of water increases it creates a more rapid advance of the snout and the glacier is called a “galloping glacier”. If this occurs and the rate is significant it draws glaciologist from all over the world. I was in Whitehorse years ago when the Donjek glacier suddenly started to surge. The hotels filled very quickly.

    A couple of years ago there were reports of increased ice breaking off the Baffin Island glacier. It was attributed to global warming. What nobody noticed was that snowfall rates had increased significantly for several years prior. The same is true in Antarctica.

    Kilimanjaro the favourite Gore global warming glacier was affected by increased dirt deposits and decreased snowfall, both a function of drought in the area. The temperature records showed no signs of warming.

    This entire kerfuffle is another example of the generalist nature of climate science when a singular event is taken out of its specialist context and misused to mislead for political gain.

  47. David L says:
    January 27, 2011 at 8:05 am
    Has anyone compiled a list of AGW “facts” that have turned out to be false?

    Yes.

    I believe it’s called the Internet.

    Seriously, here is one list of the things caused by GW:

    http://www.numberwatch.co.uk/warmlist.htm

    I believe all have been debunked, but the “Alligators in the Thames” might still be under investigation.

    (grin)

  48. “”””” izen says:
    January 27, 2011 at 9:45 am
    So once you filter out the Telegraph re-write…. “””””

    All of what you point out izen is true. These authors have simply pointed out that not ALL glaciers (in the Himalayas) are retreating, and they offer a physical reason that points to why some aren’t. In no way do they intimate that the “concensus” view of retreat is false; just that they see a previously largely unreported aspect of some glaciers that indicates why they may not be retreating. It’s a very benign study and report ; it adds knowledge we previously didn’t have (most of us).

  49. While I can’t claim to be a glacier expert, I have climbed on many glaciers (Tibet, Nepal, Mexico and Alaska.) The explanations given make sense. A thin layer of soot will materially lower the albedo, but no material insulation effect, so will increase melt rates. A thin layer of debris will act similarly, but with much less effect due to higher albedo (than soot, higher than ice). However, the movement of glaciers picks up a lot of debris as the move. At first, the debris may increase the melt rate, but as the ice melts, and the debris does not, the top of the debris field becomes thicker and thicker. While it still has a higher albedo than ice,, that is offset by the insulation effect.

    It should be easy enough to prove, especially if you live in the northeast where we got yet another load of snow. Make three large piles of snow. Leave one uncovered, put a think layer of dirt on a second, and a couple inches of dirt on the third. Let the sun act, and you should find the second one melting the fastest, but the one with the thick later will be melting the slowest.

  50. Slightly OT, am I right that 2011 seems to have brought with it a new ill-tempered approach to blog posts (the thread above, tav, his grace etc). What gives? Just happenstance, or is it concerted?

  51. Addendum to my coment above: the OSU researchers found (by actual in-the-field measurement) that a debris field several meters thick protected the glacier from melting. The ice bulge reportedly moved down with the glacier movement like a pig that had been swallowed by a python.

  52. Scherler’s team pored over satellite images of 286 glaciers throughout the Himalayas. Collected between 2000 and 2008, they showed a consistent trend everywhere except the Karakoram, In this range, it seems, rocky rubble eroded from uphill peaks serves to decouple the effects of regional warming from glacial retreats.

    Karakoram Range Karakoram Range is situated in the regions of Gilgit, Baltistan and Ladakh and has the 2nd second highest peak of the world (8,611 m, or 28,244 ft) called as K2.

    Didn`t they look at Sikkim which has the 3rd highest peak in the world at (8598 mtrs), that`s 13 mtrs less than K2 and 84 glaciers which are GROWING.

    In Landmass Sikkim covers only 0.5 percent of India’s total landmass, though the size of the state is small compared to other states in the country this small state has 84 glaciers. In the last six years studies show that ice caps in the state have grown about four times. Of the many glaciers in Sikkim, the most famous prominent and most famous of all is Zemu Glacier. It is the largest glacier in Eastern Himalayas.

    file:///E:/New%20folder/Zemu%20Glacier%20%C2%AB%20Sikkim%20Tourism.htm

    http://www.sikkiminfo.net/physical_features.htm

  53. Phil says:

    “It should be easy enough to prove, especially if you live in the northeast where we got yet another load of snow. Make three large piles of snow. Leave one uncovered, put a think layer of dirt on a second, and a couple inches of dirt on the third. Let the sun act, and you should find the second one melting the fastest, but the one with the thick later will be melting the slowest.”

    And how big a grant did Mr Pachauri want to do this work?

  54. So over the next 35 years (oops 350) years that these glaciers are predicted to melt by the IPCC they expect no changes in the monsoon’s moisture that will effect locally the growth or retreat of these glaciers. Have these new studies incorporated the new glacial isostatic adjustments that resulted in much lower ice loss projections in Greenland and Antarctica? It looks like it has changed for the Himalayas.

    New is on the left and old is on the right

  55. Ken Lowe,

    “Does anyone have any figures about heating oil and ways to minimize my impact on the environment?”

    Your concern for the environment is commendible. It’s just a pity that your concern has been hijacked by the non issue of co2. Instead of this, think about overfishing, deforestation, illegal trade in animal products, fertilizer runoffs, endangered species. Any small step taken in any of these areas will count far more than how many kilogrammes of co2 you put into the air – which is actually good for the biosphere.

  56. REPLY: Well then, ever since this comment, I’m comfortable automatically attributing every comment of yours to the bit bucket – Anthony

    Hooray! He was beginning to annoy me.

  57. Gil Dewart says:
    January 27, 2011 at 11:28 am
    Addendum to my coment above: the OSU researchers found (by actual in-the-field measurement) that a debris field several meters thick protected the glacier from melting.

    For decades people in Minnesota, Wisconson etc knew if you covered ice with straw, dirt etc and kept in a “root cellar” you could keep ice all year round. So what is so suprising about OSU or any researcher finding out that glaciers can be protected from melting by debris.

  58. Ken Love
    “Does anyone have any figures about heating oil and ways to minimize my impact on the environment?”
    Ken, have you considered moving to southern Europe? As part of the EU it is now much easier to move about. There have been many mass migrations in Europe in the past due to climate disruption. You would do the planet a favor by not having to burn as much fuel yearly as you do now. While nobody is sure about the climate in the long term there is mounting evidence that Northern Europe will be unusually cold for the next twenty to thirty years. If you have a lap top you can live anywhere so why not on the shores of the Mediteranean.

  59. George E. Smith says:
    January 27, 2011 at 9:53 am

    …I’m not going to argue that glacial regions aren’t generally in retreat. I think that always happens when earth emerges from an ice age; and likely continues till it enters into another one.

    That’s an interesting thought that I’ve often had; that during an interglacial the glaciers are generally in retreat. But what is the trigger for the onset of the next ice age? Could it be a lack of ice cover in the arctic with the consequent year round loss of ocean heat to space?

  60. Anthony states that his blog is about ‘”Commentary on puzzling things …”

    Perhaps Anthony could head off this whole problem (“I’ve felt comfortable attributing every piece of nonsense that appears here to Anthony.”) by providing his OWN commentary and opinion on the topics he posts. Then we would indeed know which opinions to attribute to Anthony and which opinions are being uncritically passed on from others.

    A quick look back at recent posts shows a significant majority are guest posts or links to other articles with little or no commentary. By posting them, the implication is that Anthony agrees (but gives an easy out when the article or guest blog is criticized). When pressed above, Anthony himself seems to disavow any agreement, support, or analysis of the things he posts — ‘”I provided the press release so that people could read exactly what was learned, so please don’t try to make it look like I’m saying something I did not.” Anthony did NOT say if he agrees with the article. He did NOT say if he thinks it is accurately written. He did NOT say if he had looked into the actual paper. The silence seems oddly out of place in a blog focused on “Commentary”.

    Furthermore, when did a press release EVER explain “exactly what was learned”? Even worse are news articles based on press releases by reporters who don’t understand the subject published in newspapers which have their own agendas. If the goal was indeed to let us know know “exactly what was learned” the discussion should be about the actual paper, and there should be a chance for the authors (or other experts) who DO know what was going on to provide input.

    REPLY: Perhaps you could try juggling a young family, managing a business, doing a daily radio program, and running the world’s most visited blog about climate (un-sponsored, and unpaid, unlike Joe Romm’s Climate Progress which is ALL about his view, paid for by Soros funded Center For American Progress – an over $30 million a year operation), and see if you can provide commentary with articles that you are posting from work each and every time. If you think you can do a better job than I, by all means start your own blog under these conditions and prove me wrong. In the meantime, I will continue to post news items, with commentary when I have time and I can add something, and without commentary when I don’t. Given the choice of posting nothing, or posting something for people to read and discuss, I’ll opt for the latter. Many like yourself and troller Kevin MacDonald don’t care for my opinion when I give it anyway.

    As for the press releases, I’ve long argued that each one should include the paper with the PR. Sadly they don’t. Why not direct your angst towards making that happen when these universities and NGO’s publish a press release? OR, alternately, if you’d like to provide me the money for a budget to subscribe to a number of major journals, then I might be able to have them available.

    You and some others make all sorts of assertions about what I should do, but never contribute anything yourself except complaints.

    – Anthony

  61. eadler:

    The majority of glaciers are retreating. The press release does not contradict the idea that climate change is melting glaciers.

    eadler, AGW implies B does not mean that B implies AGW. Moreover, since B in this case is the prevailing notion that all glaciers in the tropics are retreating according to erroneous reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), then because B is apparently not happening, AGW isn’t either, at least in regard to the Himalayan glaciers.

    Now, cutting B back to “the majority of glaciers are retreating” is something the ipcc could and probably should have done right from the start, since it must have known it really had no idea what it was talking about; except it probably reasoned that the “majority retreating” would have are harder time being distinguished from a “no change” climate, but especially from being the distinctive work of Space Aliens!

    sources from the main blog post:

    “There is no ‘stereotypical’ Himalayan glacier,” said Bookhagen. “This is in clear contrast to the IPCC reports that lumps all Himalayan glaciers together.”

    The authors found that half of the studied glaciers in the Karakoram region are stable or advancing, whereas about two-thirds are in retreat elsewhere throughout High Asia. This is in contrast to the prevailing notion that all glaciers in the tropics are retreating.

    “Controversy about the current state and future evolution of Himalayan glaciers has been stirred up by erroneous reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC),” according to the paper.

  62. Bill Marsh said on January 27, 2011 at 5:37 am:

    OT – but take a look at the Aqua Channel 5v2 tropospheric temperatures. They’ve fallen off the map. January 24th shows 1.15F below this date last year. Will be interesting to see the January UAH Temperature update.

    Not that off topic, since (C)AGW keeps getting cited as why the glaciers are all disappearing.

    Graph it with the Average. Jan 24 is 0.25°C colder than the global Average, and you can see how far below the global Average line the year has been so far. I’m assuming “Average” is for the satellite record, which would mean that for a long stretch where there’s no noticeable global warming, what we now have is even colder than that. The Sea Surface Temperatures are also mildly interesting. For Jan 25 it’s an entire 0.04°C warmer than 2008, the low point. If someone wants to make a case for global warming off of those temps, given how the year has been going, they’re going to have a pretty tough time.

    This of course explains why ABC News (US) was kindly explaining a few days ago how Climate Scientists™ have a new theory for how Global Warming has lead to the record cold and snowfalls in the Northern Hemisphere. Apparently the decreasing Arctic Sea Ice, which is scheduled to disappear around 2030 leading to mass polar bear drownings, has affected the jet stream patterns leading to the cold dipping down from the Arctic across the US. ‘Like leaving the door open to the freezer’ or something like that was the sound bite from an esteemed Peer-Reviewed Climate Expert™.

    Turn it around, that would mean when the Arctic is colder with lots of sea ice, as it will be after the Righteous Payback upon mankind brought about by the UN-enforced Global Carbon Regulating Regime to come, it acts to keep that cold close to itself. Thus after we convince the planet to cool down by reducing our emissions of plant food, and the Arctic Sea Ice extent returns to the historic highs of the Scientifically Acceptable historical records (satellite since 1979), we should have warmer and less-snowier winters than we’ve been experiencing.

    This may sound like the same result we’ve been told to expect from unrestrained (C)AGW. But there are important differences. In one case we’ll still have all the glaciers still melting, as will be breathlessly reported by ABC News and other major news outlets. In the other those warmer and less-snowier Northern Hemisphere winters will be accompanied by all the glaciers no longer melting, and indeed they’ll likely all be growing again, which will be greeted with exuberant cheering by all the peasant people who live in their shadows and need the melt water to survive. And there’ll be more polar bears. Likely less humans, but more polar bears therefore it’ll all even out and be for the best.

    There will also be a major ABC News special trumpeting the major impacts that journalists have had towards improving the human condition and how they have near single-handedly saved the planet from certain ruin, however when Saving The Earth there are some consequences that must be endured. ☺

  63. Power generation from the Himalayan glaciers of SIKKIM INDIA.

    With a rapidly growing population, increasing urbanisation and an ever-rising demand for power, the mighty rivers flowing down to the plains from the Himalayas are an attractive option for power generation. The government has targeted hydro schemes for huge growth.

    The government aims to build 50GW of hydro-power projects. Most of these projects are in the Himalayan region and in the northeast part of India. Ironically, water flows in these areas are highly susceptible to changes due to global warming.

    The Indian government’s determination to forge ahead with large-scale hydroelectric projects in the fragile Himalayan region defies warnings from climate scientists that the glaciers of the region are shrinking. The recent debacle over inaccurate figures in the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change report does not alter the trend of declining precipitation and shrinking glaciers.

    The India government appear to believe the glaciers are here to stay.

    http://www.thefifthestate.com.au/archives/10054

  64. “”””” Robuk says:
    January 27, 2011 at 11:30 am

    Karakoram Range Karakoram Range is situated in the regions of Gilgit, Baltistan and Ladakh and has the 2nd second highest peak of the world (8,611 m, or 28,244 ft) called as K2. “””””

    Some call it Mt Godwin Austen; we can’t have an important mountain without a proper name. I believe the experts say it is somewhat more challenging than Everest.

  65. “”””” Jimbo says:
    January 27, 2011 at 12:59 pm
    George E. Smith says:
    January 27, 2011 at 9:41 am
    “”””” Jimbo says:
    …………….
    “There’s that simulation word again.”
    ————
    Hi George,
    You are right to be worried about simulation. Here are some non-simulations of soot.

    http://news-releases.uiowa.edu/2010/july/072710global-warming.html

    http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/himalayan-soot.html “””””

    Thanks Jimbo for those links. Oddly the NASA one talks more about the heating of the atmosphere by soot; presumably the atmosphere in the immediate proximity of the soot. And that wouldn’t surprise me, if the particles are small enough to persist at those altitudes, apparently high enough to not often get washed out by rain, they would have high surface area to mass, so presumably could reach quite high temperatures, so warm the surrounding air quite well.

    Some of that soot of course will get washed out and is likely a source of the glacier soot. But it would seem that the glacier soot is more of a transient warmer (due to burial) but the airborne soot can continue to give, for as long as it remains airborne.

  66. “”””” Billy Liar says:
    January 27, 2011 at 12:50 pm
    George E. Smith says:
    January 27, 2011 at 9:53 am

    …I’m not going to argue that glacial regions aren’t generally in retreat. I think that always happens when earth emerges from an ice age; and likely continues till it enters into another one.

    That’s an interesting thought that I’ve often had; that during an interglacial the glaciers are generally in retreat. But what is the trigger for the onset of the next ice age? Could it be a lack of ice cover in the arctic with the consequent year round loss of ocean heat to space? “””””

    Billy, I’m a total ignoramus when it comes to what causes ice ages. I’ve heard all the orbital shift hypotheses, and certainly can see how that can cause major changes in weather and climate; but have no idea how to determine if an ice age will occur.

    I believe it is generally agreed that ice ages do not necessarily mean the whole planet is cold; but there certainly is a lot of water masquerading as land.

    During ice ages, the sea levels supposedly drop severl hundred feet or metres, du to all the water locked up in ice (on land). That kind of sea level drop, has to create a whole bunch more land, and a whole bunch less oceans. That will also create vast changes in the movement of ocean currents since paths will be cutoff by new land.

    And deep oceans are considerably more effective at capturing and storing heat than typical land is, so less oceans means less solar energy stored on earth. So I can see how an ice age severe glaciation and sea level fall can persist; but I don’t have any idea how to make that happen. Cloud levels could be lower; but with less ocean surface to capture the extra sunlight, it could stay cold anyway. I don’t plan to be around for the next one.

  67. The pertinent results of the Alaska study were that thin debris, say around the edges of a slide, melted the ice below, but thicker debris retained it well down into the ablation zone (there was a “critical thickness” which depended in part on the geological composition and compaction characteristics of the debris), altering the surface configuration of the glacier differentially and hence its overall dynamics; the hydraulic internal meltwater system was significantly changed (BTW another item of recent controversy), also affecting the flow characteristics of the glacier all the way to its base; the mesoclimate of the ice, snow and and slide areas were altered, with complex feedbacks on the overall regime of the glacier (e.g. effects of snowfall on the debris vs. on the snow of the accumulation zone or ice of the ablation zone, and the effects of the disturbance of katabatic glacier winds by the slide). Hydrosphere (including cryosphere), atmosphere, lithosphere – all are interconnected. Observing what actually happens in the field (or in the atmosphere for that matter) can produce a positive feedback of expanded knowledge.

  68. “”””” Tim Folkerts says:
    January 27, 2011 at 12:53 pm
    Anthony states that his blog is about ‘”Commentary on puzzling things …” “””””

    Tim, I think it would be a mistake to presume, that Anthony approves, promotes or supports the stories that he posts here; or that he should. I think he IS responsible for the posting, of whatever he posts; but not necessarily for its content. So if something totally scurrilous suddenly appears about some no-no subject; we could reasonably ask ‘why’d y do dat?’

    I do sometimes have a problem determining what is Anthony’s own output, in his own words, and would welcome a top line direct attribution; which typically is how the guest postings show up.

    But I don’t expect Anthony to vet the articles or guest posts or citations for us. It is nice enough to have them brought to our attention; and no way we should assume that he goes along with everything in every article.

    And as for his behavior policy I know of far less controversial websites that deal with other subjects, where the editorial policies are such that nobody can ever post anything at all contoversial; even if that controversy is germane to the subject of interest to that site. One such site whose host is as close a friend or aquaintance, as I have and he blows away anything he thinks will ruffle somebody’s feathers; specially if I write it.

  69. From Ken Lowe on January 27, 2011 at 10:22 am:

    I’m concerned about my impact on the environment. I heat my home with heating oil but am worried about what this is doing to the environment. I live in a rural area of lincolnshire so there’s not much alternative to heating my home with oil except wood and LPG… but I don’t know if this is even more harmful.
    ——–
    Does anyone have any figures about heating oil and ways to minimize my impact on the environment?

    Why burn fuel at all to stay warm?

    You’re in a rural area. Got a standard deep drilled water well? Can you drill another? Then you’re a good candidate for a Geothermal Heat Pump, standing column well implementation (Wikipedia link). The payback period for GHP in general (see Economics section) when replacing heating oil is 3 years for Canada, 5 years for the US, and well-based is inherently a less-expensive lower-maintenance installation than those requiring earth moving and buried ground loops. Geothermal is very efficient and only natural gas can compete for heating, while said heat pump could also be used for cooling.

    If building a new house, which may attractive over the long run rather than keeping the current one, you could ditch heating altogether. In a sane manner. Build a passive house like they’ve been doing in Germany, where the “heating” is a heat exchanger that recovers the heat from outgoing air, with all the remaining needed heat coming from occupants and appliances. At the time of writing of the linked article (December 2008) a passive house in Germany, with ready availability of the components, was only 5 to 7% more than conventional. You’re in the UK, part of the EU, so you should be able to readily get the supplies, and building professionals knowledgeable in the techniques should be available in the UK. Figure out what you could get from selling (or renting out) the old house, the cost of the new one, and especially the savings from not having to buy fuel oil, and see how financially advantageous it’ll be in your situation.

    Both of those solutions will be better for the environment, and that’s with ignoring the sexed-up hype of the Terrorism-level Terrible Tragedies that CO2 inflicts. They will very likely be better for your wallet as well, which, by the color of American paper currency, is “green conservation” that is easy to support. Note also that you’re in the UK, which is on a forced march down the suicide path of non-nuclear “Renewable and/or Bust” thus you should expect rising carbon taxes, thus you’ll end up paying anyway what would be spent to make the switch (right before they outright outlaw planet-destroying heating oil), which makes the proposed solutions very attractive.

  70. Anthony,

    Regarding the snarky sniping that was beginning to take place towards you, my brother-in-law says “Illegitimi non carborundum.” Don’t let the bastards wear you down.

    -CCR

  71. JPeden says:
    January 27, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    “eadler:

    The majority of glaciers are retreating. The press release does not contradict the idea that climate change is melting glaciers.

    eadler, AGW implies B does not mean that B implies AGW. Moreover, since B in this case is the prevailing notion that all glaciers in the tropics are retreating according to erroneous reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), then because B is apparently not happening, AGW isn’t either, at least in regard to the Himalayan glaciers.”

    This is a straw man argument. The theory, that there is AGW, does not imply that all glaciers in the tropics are retreating. Global data says that on average they are losing mass, and that is what would be expected. The fact that debris fields are protecting some of the glaciers does not contradict the theory of AGW. I agree that consistency with the theory of AGW does not constitute a logical “proof”. In fact there is no such thing as a logical proof of such a theory. Nothing in science is 100 percent certain and immutable. One cannot rule out the possibility that facts will emerge that show some aspects of an accepted scientific theory are wrong. That does not imply that science is useless.

    The erroneous IPCC report that the Himalayan Glaciers would be gone by 2035 was never a conclusion entertained by IPCC scientists, and the chief of the IPCC apologized for this statement. It was a quote from a reporter’s 1999 interview of one Indian glaciologist, whe denies that he said it. It reflects unprofessional behavior on the part of the person who inserted the statement into the IPCC report. It is unfortunate, but global warming skeptic bloggers do this sort of thing repeatedly.

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article6994774.ece

  72. More about ice:
    As a kid one of my chores was to fetch blocks of ice, by wheelbarrow, from the railroad depot to an ice house. Were slivers of cold ice ever good on a hot day! A glacier is not the same as a block of ice, just as an ocean is not the same as a bucket of water (used to water-boy those, too). Glaciers are often called “rivers of ice” and their motion described as “viscous flow”, but their actual mode of deformation is quite different. They move by plastic flow, and that is dependent on pressure. Add weight (like a moraine or a debris slide or a fall of snow) and you get acceleration. If one part of the glacier speeds up and another doesn’t, you get…a very complex system of stresses and strains! Furthermore, glaciers don’t just carry a top load. Debris can be hidden – entrained within the ice mass and at the bottom of the glacier, the “ground moraine” that does much of the down-cutting erosion that creates those scenic valleys. Eventually it will emerge down-glacier. Another anomaly: the body of the glacier moves, at varying rates, but the upper layer just goes along for the ride. It is brittle, so it cracks, and you get those menacing crevasses (note the picture at the head of the posting above). That incredibly uneven and ever-changing surface tends to complicate the albedo and absorption situations enormously!

  73. eadler says:
    January 27, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    It [Himalayan glaciers gone by 2035] reflects unprofessional behavior on the part of the person who inserted the statement into the IPCC report. It is unfortunate, but global warming skeptic bloggers do this sort of thing repeatedly.

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article6994774.ece

    Huh, “skeptic bloggers do this sort of thing repeatedly” = unprofessionally insert incorrect items into their reports? From your own link:

    Georg Kaser, a leading Austrian glaciologist who contributed to the 2007 [ipcc] report, described the glacier mistake as huge and said that he had warned colleagues about it months before publication.

    [my bold]

  74. Interesting maybe the Glacier insulation factor is alive and well, I’m informed are many glaciers that have been road bedded and blacktopped over acting as an insulation barrier, one such one is a part of the Interstate Hwy 86 between Portland and Hood river running along the Columbia river Gorge (Great wind surfing and a beautiful part of the USA) part of the area is in a constant state of glacier creep that cracks the road surface constantly with water run off into the Columbia river gorge. A local person told me about this covering of glacier tails many years ago and it has stuck in my mind. Can anybody fill me in on this or is it folklore?

  75. Ken Lowe says:
    January 27, 2011 at 10:22 am

    Yes, since the Earth is suffering from a CO2 famine, you should use as much oil as possible, and make sure that all your electric supply comes from coal-fired generating plants.

  76. REPLY: Well that’s where we differ. I admit and fix my error, you willfully create an error where none existed and continue with it for spite – Anthony

    This is what you characterise as admitting to and fixing an error:

    REPLY: I’m aware of this, but as people routinely point out to me, I’m responsible for my own blog content. The fact that Cook allows this in any main post is the issue. I’ve made a note in parenthesis to make it a bit clearer – Anthony

    You’re right about one thing, we do differ. Still, I’m in your house and should play by your rules.

    I am aware that the gross misrepresentations I attributed to Anthony Watts properly belong to The Telegraph’s Dean Nelson and Richard Alleyne, but would point out that Mr Watts accepts responsibility for his own own blog content. The fact that Watts allows such gross misrepresentations in any main post is the issue.

    Sincerely,

    Kevin MacDonald.

    REPLY: I’m aware that you continue to change your identity and email address to avoid binning, while also using a proxy server to hide your identity. Why should we pay any attention to your views when you fabricate things just to get your point across? – Anthony

  77. Kevin MacDonald, being a government drone, simply has no understanding of how an entity like WUWT operates.

  78. Smokey says:
    January 28, 2011 at 9:14 am
    Kevin MacDonald, being a government drone, simply has no understanding of how an entity like WUWT operates.

    Fed up with the straw man fallacies Smokey, thought you’d move on to the ad hom’s?

    Your post also seems to imply that you can see this e-mail address, I hope that’s not the case.

  79. Good guess, huh? This isn’t the only place you post. And what ‘straw man fallacies’ would you be referring to?

  80. Smokey said on January 28, 2011 at 9:14 am:

    Kevin MacDonald, being a government drone, simply has no understanding of how an entity like WUWT operates.

    Oh I don’t know, he seems to have mastered changing his handle to avoid his “banning” by making his posts less obvious to the moderation team, indicating he may have some understanding.

    However, speaking as a mere guest, I have noticed others who had their comments blocked due to changing their handles too frequently, thus it appears Mr. MacDonald has likely run afoul of that bit of site etiquette, indicating that understanding is very tiny.

    Are you posting here while using your government or otherwise publicly-funded provided-for-job internet account? If so, you might qualify for special treatment. ☺

    REPLY: He’s also using a proxy server in the UK to hide his identity. Who knows who he is? – Anthony

  81. eadler says:

    “The erroneous IPCC report that the Himalayan Glaciers would be gone by 2035 was never a conclusion entertained by IPCC scientists, and the chief of the IPCC apologized for this statement.”

    He apologised did he? Was that before or after he accused the Indian minister of ‘voodoo’ science for pointing it out?

  82. Ted Gray asks about roads being built over glaciers. Good question. There are some very slow-moving “rock glaciers” (totally covered by debris, and sometimes a question if there is any ice under them at all) that might have been paved over. Don’t know about the Columbia gorge, but in Alaska the old Copper River and Northwestern Railway, built to haul ore down from Kennecott, was said to be built in part over a glacier. Maybe some sourdoughs know more about that.

  83. Found in my previous post:

    REPLY: He’s also using a proxy server in the UK to hide his identity. Who knows who he is? – Anthony

    Changing handles and using proxy servers? What, does he think Homeland Security is going to try and track him down, starting from here?

    Although, now that I think about it, there was that long stretch where I had to view WUWT unformatted, the style sheets weren’t loading from wordpress, that started before the November elections until just after Christmas, where I also couldn’t access the Breitbart “Big” sites at all, said sites being a Known Hotbed of anti-current administration anti-liberal hard right Extreme Conservatism… And both issues resolved at exactly the same time, like someone had decided to stop messing with my dial-up connection…

    Nah, just coincidence. ;-)

  84. @ Kadaka. You must be vitally important to the cause to have attracted so much attention. I would eschew solo walks in the woods and check round my car before driving if I were you……

  85. @ Grumpy Old Man on January 28, 2011 at 4:24 pm:

    There is an alternate defensive maneuver worth pursuing, where one posts long ludicrous posts that would convince the casual drive-by government-employed reader that the commenter is a harmless crackpot, with enough pro-(C)AGW verbiage that an automated reading program (not understanding sarcasm, satire, and irony) would conclude the commenter must be supporting the Green Party Line. This would lead an average overworked government reviewer to believe the commenter must have been flagged in error.

    And suddenly the commenter’s internet connection, being dial-up thus prone to errors caused by excessive network lag with the internet now retooled for no-delay high-speed, miraculously works again, and does seem faster than before, as if some delaying interference was removed. Then the commenter obliquely mentions the occurrence just in case, and describes a potential fix in the third person to throw off the robotic programs…

  86. Anthony,

    UK proxy server? Among internet-researchable academics, there is a Dr. Kevin C. MacDonald at University College London (mentioned here, and here’s the UCL staff link). Institute of Archeology, Reader in African Archeology. Since (C)AGW is scheduled to incinerate Africa to dust, right after wiping the continent clean with violent frequent storms, that could indicate a possible animosity to those rejecting (C)AGW. Of course, your heckler could just be spoofing the identity of a respectable academic.

    Searching is problematic due to the existence of Dr. Kevin B. MacDonald, who appears to be just another tenured nut.

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