Monday, January 18, 2010

Himalayan glaciers thrown into the climate chance melting pot

Are the Himalayan glaciers melting or not and even if they are how quickly are they likely to disappear?

The IPCC is getting some heat from the British right wing press.

It looks bad though. Surely the IPCC would not be so naive?

World misled over Himalayan glacier meltdown [Times]

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

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

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

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


However, glaciologists find such figures inherently ludicrous, pointing out that most Himalayan glaciers are hundreds of feet thick and could not melt fast enough to vanish by 2035 unless there was a huge global temperature rise. The maximum rate of decline in thickness seen in glaciers at the moment is 2-3 feet a year and most are far lower.

Professor Julian Dowdeswell, director of the Scott Polar Research Institute at Cambridge University, said: "Even a small glacier such as the Dokriani glacier is up to 120 metres [394ft] thick. A big one would be several hundred metres thick and tens of kilometres long. The average is 300 metres thick so to melt one even at 5 metres a year would take 60 years. That is a lot faster than anything we are seeing now so the idea of losing it all by 2035 is unrealistically high.”



David Smith said...

Many thanks for this.

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Lay people are unable to sort out the contending claims, yet are being told radical life changes are in store.

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Cianoy said...

Well accurate or not, maybe there's some benefit to being an alarmist when it comes to environmental issues. Hopefully, the prospect of something dramatic could change people's behavior. A two to three feet decline in the height of the Himalayas is still pretty big isn't it?