Navigation Links
Himalayan glaciers will shrink even if temperatures hold steady
Date:11/16/2012

Come rain or shine (or even snow), some glaciers of the Himalayas will continue shrinking for many years to come.

The forecast by Brigham Young University geology professor Summer Rupper comes after her research on Bhutan, a region in the bull's-eye of the monsoonal Himalayas. Published in Geophysical Research Letters, Rupper's most conservative findings indicate that even if climate remained steady, almost 10 percent of Bhutan's glaciers would vanish within the next few decades. What's more, the amount of melt water coming off these glaciers could drop by 30 percent.

Rupper says increasing temperatures are just one culprit behind glacier retreat. A number of climate factors such as wind, humidity, precipitation and evaporation of any given year can affect how glaciers behave. With some Bhutanese glaciers as long as 13 miles, an imbalance in any of these areas can take them decades to completely respond.

"These particular glaciers have seen so much warming in the past few decades that they're currently playing lots of catch up," Rupper explains.

In fact, snowfall rates in Bhutan would need to almost double to avoid glacier retreat, but it's not a likely scenario because warmer temperatures lead to rainfall instead of snow. If glaciers continue to lose more water than gained, the combination of more rain and more glacial melt increases the probability of flooding which can be devastating to neighboring villages.

"Much of the world's population is just downstream of the Himalayas," Rupper points out. "A lot of culture and history could be lost, not just for Bhutan but for neighboring nations facing the same risks."

To illustrate the likelihood of such an outcome, Rupper took her research one moderate step further. Her results show if temperatures were to rise just 1 degree Celsius, the Bhutanese glaciers would shrink by 25 percent and the annual melt water would drop by as much as 65 percent. With climate continuing to warm, such a prediction is not altogether unlikely, especially given the years it can take for glaciers to react to change.

To make more precise predictions for Bhutan, Rupper and BYU graduate students Landon Burgener and Josh Maurer joined researchers from Columbia University, the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, NASA and Bhutan's Department of Hydro-Meteorological Services. Together, they trekked through rainforests and barren cliffs to reach some of the world's most remote blocks of ice. There they placed a weather station and glacier monitoring equipment that can be used to gather real-time data in the months and years to follow.

"It took seven days just to get to the target glacier," Rupper recounts, having returned in October. "For our pack animals, horsemen and guides, that terrain and elevation are a way of life, but I'll admit the westerners in the group were a bit slower-moving."

Rupper's forecasts and fieldwork are among the first to look at glaciers in Bhutan, and the government hopes to use her research to make long-term decisions about the nation's water resources and flooding hazards.

"They could potentially have a better idea of where best to fortify homes or build new power plants," says Rupper. "Hopefully, good science can lead to good engineering solutions for the changes we're likely to witness in the coming decades."


'/>"/>

Contact: Joe Hadfiled
joe_hadfield@byu.edu
801-422-9206
Brigham Young University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Melting glaciers, enough sand to bury London, and ancient ecosystem engineering
2. Analysis of speed of Greenland glaciers gives new insight for rising sea level
3. Old aerial photos supply new knowledge on glaciers in Greenland
4. Alpine glaciers contribute to carbon cycling
5. Tiny plants could cut costs, shrink environmental footprint
6. Shrinking leaves point to climate change
7. Did the changing climate shrink Europes ancient hippos?
8. Warming temperatures cause aquatic animals to shrink the most
9. Rising ocean temperatures harm protected coral reefs
10. Rise in temperatures and CO2 follow each other closely in climate change
11. Increase in metal concentrations in Rocky Mountain watershed tied to warming temperatures
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:12/22/2016)... NEW YORK , December 22, 2016 ... global provider of secure solutions for the e-Government, Public Safety, HealthCare, ... a subsidiary of SuperCom, has been selected to implement and deploy ... county in Northern California , further expanding its ... ...
(Date:12/16/2016)... 16, 2016 Research and Markets has announced ... Global Forecast to 2021" report to their offering. ... The biometric vehicle access ... a CAGR of 14.06% from 2016 to 2021. The market is ... to reach 854.8 Million by 2021. The growth of the biometric ...
(Date:12/15/2016)... 15, 2016 Advancements in biometrics ... wellness and wellbeing (HWW), and security of ... new passenger vehicles begin to feature fingerprint ... heart beat monitoring, brain wave monitoring, stress ... and pulse detection. These will be driven ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:1/24/2017)... , Jan. 24, 2017  Frost & Sullivan is pleased to ... Corporation, will receive special recognition at the 22nd Annual Medical ... 19 to 21, 2017 at the Loews Coronado Bay Resort in ... register and download the event agenda for Medical Technologies 2017: A ... ...
(Date:1/24/2017)... WAYNE, Pa. , Jan. 24, 2017   ... services provider, today announced the addition of Jennifer ... new Senior Vice President and General Manager for the ... be responsible for Bracket,s work in Rater Training, Quality ... joins Bracket with a strong skillset and demonstrated record ...
(Date:1/24/2017)... , Jan. 24, 2017 /PRNewswire/ - BioAmber Inc. (NYSE: ... underwriters have agreed to increase the size of the offering ... the Company, together with warrants to purchase 1,842,106 shares of ... US$5.50 per share of common stock (the "Exercise Price"), at ... associated warrant (the "Public Price"). The warrants have a term ...
(Date:1/24/2017)... CA (PRWEB) , ... January 24, 2017 , ... ... development of label-free graphene biosensor assays for fragment-based screening, will showcase ... the 2017 Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening (SLAS) conference in Washington, D.C. ...
Breaking Biology Technology: