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The Srinking of Himalayan Glaciers

The Trans-Himalayan Mountain Desert

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Trans-Himalaya mountain range is a cold desert with winter temperatures touching -30° C, and an average annual rain/snow fall of only 100 mm.

Mick Lissone

Himalayan Mountains

NASA

A satellite's-eye-view of India and Tibet.

Rainshadow effect on the Tibetan Plateau.

Leh Ladakh Tours.com

Climate of Ladakh

Melting glaciers

These glaciers, like others in the world, are at risk of melting due to increasing temperatures and erratic weather patterns. Glaciers depend on heavy precipitation to replenish ice on an annual basis. If these glaciers melt, many people dependent on them will be flooded during winter and experience drought during summer.

Himalayan glaciers have shrunk

The impact of global warming may already be affecting the Himalayas.

A shift in the snowline will result in less input to the glacier mass balance during summer periods. Therefore, higher atmospheric temperature and more liquid precipitation at higher altitude will lead to rapid retreat of glaciers in the Himalayas.

IPCC

Changes in surface temperature 1970-2004

IPCC

Record of retreat of some glaciers in the Himalaya

High rate of glacier melt

At current rates of global warming, the Himalayan glaciers could shrink rapidly.

The 1956 photograph of the Imja glacier, then one of the largest glaciers at an altitude of around 5,000m, shows a layer of thick ice with small meltwater ponds. In 2007, much of the glacier had melted into a vast but stunning blue lake. The 30-kilometre Gangotri glacier is also steadily retreating.

Series of before and after panoramas of Imja glacier taken five decades apart highlights dramatic reduction of Himalayan ice