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The Recent Status of Himalayan Glaciers
Bahuguna, I.M., Rathore, B.P., Brahmbhatt, R., Sharma, M., Dhar, S., Randhawa, S.S., Kumar, K., Romshoo, S., Shah, R.D., Ganjoo, R.K. and Ajai. 2014. Are the Himalayan glaciers retreating? Current Science 106: 1008-1013.

The authors write that "the Himalayan mountain system to the north of the Indian land mass with arcuate strike of NW-SE for about 2400 km holds one of the largest concentrations of glaciers outside the polar regions in its high-altitude regions." And, therefore, it is of great interest to know how it may or may not be responding to whatever it is that the earth's global temperature is doing.

What was done
With their curiosity thus piqued, Bahuguna et al. conducted a study "to find the change in the extent of Himalayan glaciers during the last decade using IRS LISS III images of 2000/01/02 and 2010/11." And in doing so, they say that "two thousand and eighteen glaciers representing climatically diverse terrains in the Himalaya were mapped and monitored," including the glaciers of the Karakoram, Himachal, Zanskar, Uttarakhand, Nepal and Sikkim regions.

What was learned
The all-India team of eleven researchers found that 1752 glaciers (86.8%) were observed having stable fronts (no change in the snout position and area of ablation zone), 248 (12.3%) exhibited retreat and 18 (0.9%) of them exhibited advancement of snout," such that "the net loss in 10,250.68 sq. km area of the 2018 glaciers put together was found to be 20.94 sq. km or 0.2% (±2.5% of 20.94 sq. km)."

What it means
In the concluding paragraph of their paper, Bahuguna et al. state that "the results of the present study indicate that most of the glaciers were in a steady state compared to the results of other studies carried out for the period prior to 2001," while noting that "this period of monitoring almost corresponds to the hiatus in global warming in the last decade," referencing Bala (2013) in this regard. And this fact provides additional significant evidence for the reality of the thermal hiatus within which the earth is still embedded.

Bala, G. 2013. Why the hiatus in global warming in the last decade? Current Science 105: 1031-1032.

Reviewed 13 August 2014