Himalayan glaciers ‘not shrinking rapidly’

The Gangotri glacier is "practically at a standstill". Copyright: Flickr/huggy47

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Himalayan glaciers are not retreating as rapidly as predicted and in some cases are expanding, claims Indian glaciologist Vijay Kumar Raina, who has caused controversy among scientists.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said in 2007 that Himalayan glaciers "are receding faster than in any other part of theworld and, if the present rate continues, the likelihood ofthem disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is veryhigh if the Earth keeps warming at the current rate".

But India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests has released a review, written by Raina, of satellite and ground measurementsthat claims to show that, while some glaciers are shrinking, others are stable and some are even expanding.

Several Western scientists who have carried out research in the region agree with the findings. Canadian glaciologist Kenneth Hewitt says: "There is no evidence to support [the IPCC] view and, indeed, rates of retreat have been less in the past 30 years than the previous 60 years".

The "extremely provocative"findings "are consistent with what I have learned independently",says Jeffrey S. Kargel, a glaciologist at the University ofArizona, United States.

Others, though they disagree about the reduction of ice mass, say that the losses are unlikely to cause the feared water shortages.

Many are calling for more research, for example a "robust observation campaign" to see how resistant the region is to climate change.

Link to full article in Science