DATE: June 19, 2019
SNIP: The melting of Himalayan glaciers has doubled since the turn of the century, with more than a quarter of all ice lost over the last four decades, scientists have revealed. The accelerating losses indicate a “devastating” future for the region, upon which a billion people depend for regular water.
The scientists combined declassified US spy satellite images from the mid-1970s with modern satellite data to create the first detailed, four-decade record of ice along the 2,000km (1,200-mile) mountain chain.
The analysis shows that 8bn tonnes of ice are being lost every year and not replaced by snow, with the lower level glaciers shrinking in height by 5 meters annually. The study shows that only global heating caused by human activities can explain the heavy melting.
Prof Joerg Schaefer, from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth observatory and part of the team, said: “It is really the doubling of the speed of glacier melt that is most concerning.” The new understanding of past melting means forecasts can now be made with far more confidence but the outlook is dire, he said. “It looks devastating and there is no doubt in my mind, not a single grain of doubt, that [the impact of the climate crisis] is what we are seeing.”