Ice capades – Some Himalayan Glaciers Growing, study suggests a negative sea level rise adjustment

I wonder if Rajenda Pachauri will call this “voodoo science“? A previous study by the UC Santa Barbara found that the Karakoram glaciers are mostly stagnating, possibly due to debris, the author said then that:

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

In the study this week, Stephan Harrison, associate professor in quaternary science at the U.K.’s University of Exeter, said the new research had showed there is “considerable variability” in the global climate and in how glaciers respond to it.

False Alarm: Some Himalayan Glaciers Are Growing
Nina Chestney, Reuters

Some glaciers in the Himalayas mountain range have gained a small amount of mass between 1999 and 2008, new research shows, bucking the global trend of glacial decline. The study published on Sunday in the Nature Geoscience journal also said the Karakoram mountain range in the Himalayas has contributed less to sea level rise than previously thought.

As global average temperature rise, glaciers, ice caps and ice sheets melt and shed water, which contributes to the increase of sea levels, threatening the populations of low-lying nations and islands.

The research at France’s University of Grenoble estimates that the Karakoram glaciers have gained around 0.11 to 0.22 metres per year between 1999 and 2008.

“Our conclusion that Karakoram glaciers had a small mass gain at the beginning of the 21st century indicates that those central/eastern glaciers are not representative of the whole (Himalayas),” the experts at the university said.

The study appears to confirm earlier research that had suggested the Karakoram glaciers have not followed the global trend of glacial decline over the past three decades. The mountain range’s remoteness had made it hard to confirm its behaviour.

The Karakoram mountain range spans the borders between India, China and Pakistan and is covered by 19,950 square kilometres of glaciers. It is home to the second highest mountain in the world, K2.

“We suggest that the sea-level-rise contribution for this region during the first decade of the 21st century should be revised from +0.04 mm per year to -0.006 mm per year sea-level equivalent,” the study said.

The Himalayas hold the planet’s largest body of ice outside the polar caps and feed many of the world’s great rivers, including the Ganges and Brahmaputra, on which hundreds of millions of people depend.

The world’s glaciers, ice caps and ice sheets have shed around 4,200 cubic kilometres from 2003 to 2010, experts suggest, which is enough to raise sea levels by 12 mm over that period.

Stephan Harrison, associate professor in quaternary science at the U.K.’s University of Exeter, said the new research had showed there is “considerable variability” in the global climate and in how glaciers respond to it.

The Karakoram glaciers are also unusual because they are covered with thick layers of rock debris, which means their patterns of melting and mass gain are driven by changes in that debris as well as in the climate.

Much of their mass gain also comes from avalanches from the mountains towering around them, Harrison said.

A separate study in February found that Himalayan glaciers and ice caps as a whole were losing mass less quickly than once feared, offering some respite to a region already feeling the effects of global warming.

Reuters, 16 April 2012

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35 thoughts on “Ice capades – Some Himalayan Glaciers Growing, study suggests a negative sea level rise adjustment

  1. “The mountain range’s remoteness had made it hard to confirm its behaviour.”

    Perhaps the remoteness also means that the black carbon (soot) from India and China has less impact, and so this supports the idea that the melt in the less remote ranges is not due to temperature but to polution.

  2. I have fancied a nice piece of real estate on the edge of the Continental Shelf overlooking the Sohm Plain….with a distant view of the Azores Plateau. With the growing glaciers, maybe my dream can be realized.

  3. The Himalayas hold the planet’s largest body of ice outside the polar caps and feed many of the world’s great rivers, including the Ganges and Brahmaputra, on which hundreds of millions of people depend.

    If there were a word of truth in this then the glaciers would have disappeared long ago. It is the precipitation that creates the glaciers and the rivers. If precip remains stable and glaciers begin to grow it is at the expense of river volume. If precip increases and glaciers grow then expect flooding. No free lunch. They teach science each year in schools around the world. Maybe they should target news organizations and offer remedial courses in the basics. Back to school for Nina Chestney.

  4. The reason why we’re finding that the glaciers aren’t melting as quick as we thought is because of the last study which used the satellites to calculate the melt and mass loss. This was a departure from the traditional method.

    Those glaciers at lower altitudes are much easier for scientists to get to and so were more frequently included, but they were also more prone to melting.

    The bias was particularly strong in Asia, said Wahr: “There extrapolation is really tough as only a handful of lower-altitude glaciers are monitored and there are thousands there very high up.”

    No, really, that’s what was going on. The physical measurements were done on low laying glaciers and then extrapolated to the higher ones. Because, its harder to do it at the high altitudes.
    Links and perspective here.

  5. The last time one shoe fit all men were bearfoot. The last time anything Mother Nature did was straitht forward, unabmigious and uniform was in my dreams. It seems to me the some kind of naviety index needs to be developed to highlight the foolishness level of blanket and meaningless statements about anything in the natural sciences.

  6. FWIW, as pointed out at TAV, the AR4 did acknowledge (in passing) that the Karakorum (as opposed to the entire Himalayan range) did have ‘moderately increased accumulation’ of glacial mass. This seems to be consistent with the more recent findings.

  7. “As global temperature rise(s)
    BUT IT’S NOT!
    Anyway, a global statistic has no causal agency.

    Notice how different the adjectives are when they don’t like the trend: ‘small mass gain’.
    When they describe glacial mass losses, they’re always ‘worrying’, ‘ominous’, ‘foreboding’, and of course, ‘alarming’.

  8. “…..have gained a small amount of mass between 1999 and 2008, new research shows, bucking the global trend of glacial decline.”

    As in pitching a baseball, always lead with a curve ball. Talk about spin !

  9. Another set of Warmists trying to reconcile data that does not conform to warmism. And staggering through the data.
    And why are the authors not familiar with studies that have determined the glacial input into the outlying river systems is negligible? Or is that Reuters commentary?

  10. dp says:
    April 18, 2012 at 7:52 am

    The Himalayas hold the planet’s largest body of ice outside the polar caps and feed many of the world’s great rivers, including the Ganges and Brahmaputra, on which hundreds of millions of people depend.

    If there were a word of truth in this then the glaciers would have disappeared long ago. …

    ??? What are you on about???

    Glaciers do feed rivers, and the streams coming off the Himalaya and Karakorum massifs contribute to the rivers named. There’s no news in that. The base of a glacier is often scored by tunnels that carry streams of melt water out from under the ice. Look up the term “esker.” Whether a glacier grows or shrinks depends on the balance between snow fall and new ice formation, sublimation of ice, and melting ice. Those in turn are subject to several other factors. As the article pointed out, the Karakorum glaciers are partially mantled in rubble. That rubble makes their behaviour difficult to discern remotely (from satellite and aerial imagery) since the surface tends to look like rock and debris flows rather than ice. Depending on the thickness of the rubble blanket, it could serve as either an agent of reduction (storing solar warmth) and causing melting, or as an insulator, slowing the flow of air across the ice and allowing really cold air to stagnate on or very near the ice. Ice caves in volcanic formations work similarly.

    If you are confused about the size of the ice fields in those mountains, you want to remember that the scale of ice in those regions was never well understood from the ground. It was only after satellite imagery became available in the ’60s that geologists realized how much ice there was up there. The same is true of the ice fields in the southern Andes in South America. No one needs to go back to school but some additional directed reading might inform the odd comment.

  11. I always like to ask myself a question along the lines of:
    ‘So did Reuters phone up a University to ask if they’d got any new stories about global warming, or did a professor or university press officer phone up Reuters to tell them about their latest theories which are just about to go to press?’

  12. “As global average temperature rise [sic], glaciers, ice caps and ice sheets melt and shed water, which contributes to the increase of sea levels, threatening the populations of low-lying nations and islands.”

    Amazing, astounding, tired, old, broken-down alarmist cut-and-paste insert. Snore.

  13. Being picky the Karakoram and Himalayas are separate mountain ranges.

    Maybe the Railway Engineer will use this as a get out clause!

  14. Production of fossil ground water from no or slow to recharge aquifers amounts to 830 cubic kilometers per year. The ground water production is primarily used for irrigation of food and fodder. New water from burning hydrocarbons increases the additional water to the globe to a total of 900 cubic kilometers per year. The 900 km3/year raises sea levels by 2.6 mm per year. I suspect the basis for the statement in the article, “The world’s glaciers, ice caps and ice sheets have shed around 4,200 cubic kilometres from 2003 to 2010, experts suggest, which is enough to raise sea levels by 12 mm over that period” may have been “adjusted’ by the experts. There is not enough room in the observed sea level rise to account for both. The basis for the fossil water and new water from burning hydrocarbons is easily observed, compared to glaciers, ice caps and ice sheets.

  15. “”””” In the study this week, Stephan Harrison, associate professor in quaternary science at the U.K.’s University of Exeter, said the new research had showed there is “considerable variability” in the global climate and in how glaciers respond to it. “””””

    The hell you say ! Do you suppose that could be why some Antarctica glaciers are growing while none of the Tuamotu Archipelago glaciers are growing ?

  16. If the locals would build massive earthquake resistant hydroelectric dams to manage water and provide electricity, it would improve their standard of living and buffer any warming or cooling effects of any future “climate change” for the region.

    Why don’t they do that?

  17. When I went p the Karakorum in 2001, my sirdar guide showed me all the glaciers that were advancing and all those retreating. Even within one glacier stream, some of the tributaties were growing and some were retreating. Quite obviously, they were being effected by very local events, rather than global events.

  18. “Smokey says:

    April 18, 2012 at 9:36 am

    Duster,

    The Himalayas hold the planet’s largest body of ice outside the polar caps…

    Are we forgetting about Greenland?”
    Darn,Smokey. That was the 1st thing that popped into my mind. But then,let us not forget the few minor stream in Greenland do not support 100’s of millions,so it doesn’t count to scare the plebes.Besides,its are growing or stable also.
    (Now. Where are the panic ads for the Arctic Ice melting? I’m turning blue here waitng for them.)

  19. Kbray …….If the locals would build massive earthquake resistant hydroelectric dams to manage water and provide electricity, it would improve their standard of living and buffer any warming or cooling effects of any future “climate change” for the region.
    Why don’t they do that?
    ————————————————————————-

    Very difficult, I would say. There are no rock strata in the Karakorum, just fracrured roch that is constantly on the move.

    I think a stable and safe dam in the Karakorum would be a very difficult and hugely expensive project. If for no other reason, it takes two days on the most dangerous of roads to get from Islamabad to Skardu. Construction equipment on that ‘road’ – no way.

  20. “The Himalayas hold the planet’s largest body of ice outside the polar caps”. Did someone forget to inform Greenland of its demotion to second best or it promotion to polar ice cap?

  21. Yeah but Greenland’s ice slid off, right? Oh, sorry, my mistake, that hasn’t happened yet.

  22. “The study appears to confirm earlier research that had suggested the Karakoram glaciers have not followed the global trend of glacial decline over the past three decades.”

    The most famous glaciers in New Zealand (Fox and Franz Josef) have also not followed the global trend of decline.

    According to this website which I know nothing about – there are quite a lot of expanding glaciers.

    http://www.iceagenow.com/List_of_Expanding_Glaciers.htm

    So my question is, exactly how “global” is this “global trend of glacial decline”? Does anyone know?

  23. Duster says:
    Glaciers do feed rivers, and the streams coming off the Himalaya and Karakorum massifs contribute to the rivers named. There’s no news in that. The base of a glacier is often scored by tunnels that carry streams of melt water out from under the ice.

    Yes we know this. Now look at the size of the streams flowing from them. Do they make up the majority of the water in the rivers that flow through where people live?

    According to Wikipedia, there is 12,000 km^3 of ice in the Himalayas. The Ganges has a flow rate of 38,000 m^3/s. So all the ice in the Himalayas is equivalent to only 10 years flow of the Ganges. Just the Ganges, and all the ice, not just the glaciers.

    If all of the glaciers on the Himalayas were melted, how would that affect the amount of water going out the Ganges? Barely a drop. The snow would fall in winter and melt in summer, feeding the rivers. Most of the water would continue to come from other sources, as it does now.

    Glaciers make no difference to the flow of the rivers. They just happen to be the official starting point, since they are in the valley bottoms. The only feature that makes any difference is the amount of precipitation and its timing (either falling as rain, or melting when snow).

  24. Up above you have a Jo from Climate-truth-ireland…being Irish I clicked on…and found that the site contains some gobbledygook about Climate Change and the Bible!
    Just recently I have noticed that Warmist Media is attempting to forge a link between Climate Change ‘denial’ and Creationism. Describing both as part of an ‘anti-science’ movement.
    I commented on a several sites asking if the 49 ex Nasa Physists, Engineers and Astronauts were ‘Creationists’.
    Watch out for Jo and her Biblical take on Climate Science…I suspect it might be a false flag operation designed to discredit scientific skeptics.

  25. Those glaciers at lower altitudes are much easier for scientists to get to and so were more frequently included, but they were also more prone to melting.

    The bias was particularly strong in Asia,

    The himalayan mountains run east/west and the accessible glaciers are in the south facing valleys, which are the glaciers that have been retreating, while north facing glaciers have advanced.

    The “considerable variability” remark decodes to ‘we don’t know why’. Although in all likelyhood they do know why, but can’t say because they value their jobs and grants.

    The only possible cause of south facing glaciers retreating and north facing glaciers advancing is increased solar insolation combined with lower temperatures.

  26. Duster says:
    April 18, 2012 at 9:21 am
    //////////////////////////////////

    I agree with dp.

    Glaciers are a water lock. They capture rainfall high up in the mountains and delay its progress down to the low lands. Not all of the rainfall that fee will find its way down stream because some of it becomes frozen and assimulated by the Glacier.

    If a Glacier is growing, it means that there is less water being fed into lower lying rivers.

    If a Glacier is receing, it means that not only is more of the rainfall which fell at high altitudes being able to run unimpended down stream, but also the melt ice is adding to water volume.

    If there was no Glacier 100% of the rainfall at high altitude would,find its way down to lower lying river beds.

  27. “A separate study in February found that Himalayan glaciers and ice caps as a whole were losing mass less quickly than once feared, offering some respite to a region already feeling the effects of global warming.”

    Wondering what effects they were suffering. Anyone know?

  28. Dennis Nikols refers to ‘bearfoot men’. He must have Yetis in mind. As is well known these hardy apemen have evolved their bodies to making walking uphill easier. Many of us have noticed that walking backwards uphill eases the strain on the legs. Yetis have evolved to either rotate their head by 180 degrees or to have their feet reversed. That is way following their tracks in the snow has never worked. Yet, as we miht say…..

  29. Duster says:
    April 18, 2012 at 9:21 am

    Glaciers do feed rivers, and the streams coming off the Himalaya and Karakorum massifs contribute to the rivers named. There’s no news in that.

    Glacial melt is not a source of anything. It is lagged precipitation. The melt feeds steams and rivers, but are not the source of those streams and rivers. Glaciers do in fact compete with people for the water. If glaciers were to begin expanding through less rate melt there will be less water in the streams and rivers, presuming no change in precip. Water in a glacier is not water in your tea.

  30. “Glacial melt is not a source of anything. It is lagged precipitation. The melt feeds steams and rivers, but are not the source of those streams and rivers. Glaciers do in fact compete with people for the water. If glaciers were to begin expanding through less rate melt there will be less water in the streams and rivers, presuming no change in precip. Water in a glacier is not water in your tea.”

    This is exactly why glaciers are important. When precipitation is highly seasonal, as it is in this part of Asia, glaciers act to moderate the flow of rivers and smooth their flow through the year, in particular to release water through melting during the dry season. If it wasn’t for glacier melt water, river flow would be much lower during the dry season.

    For agriculture etc there is a big difference between a river that flows all year round and one that flows only in the wet season, even if the total annual flow of the two is the same.

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