Himalayan snow ‘half previous estimates’No comments
DURBAN, South Africa–Himalayan snow cover is little more than half of that previously estimated, according to first-ever comprehensive research on snow cover in the region released at UN climate talks here.
The study found that there are 54,252 glaciers in the Himalayas covering 60,054 sq km. Until now it was estimated that the snow covered area was about 110,000 sq km.
The report was released by the Chairman of Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change — the United Nations climate change scientific body — Rajendra Pachauri, and Nepal’s Environment Minister Hem Raj Tater at a programme to mark Mountain Day here on the sidelines of the climate change meeting. Negotiators from 195 countries have gathered here to discuss climate change.
“The study used a standardised methodology based on analysis of satellite images to prepare first-ever comprehensive inventory of glaciers in the 10 major river basins in the Himalayas,” said Samjwal Bajracharya, glacier expert at International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, a regional inter-governmental agency that conducts research on glaciers in eight countries of the Hindukush Himalayan region, including Nepal. “It took about three years to come up with the results.”
The study looked at ten years of data on snow recorded by moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer, which presents an account of snow mapping and monitoring initiatives at different levels from regional to global. The report claims it gives comprehensive baseline information for Himalayan glaciers in which there is very little climate change data available.
“Longer-term data are needed in order to understand the relation between snow cover and climate change but the ten-year snow cover study has shown regional variations,” added Bajracharya.
According to the study, the maximum annual average snow cover area was in 2005 and the minimum was in 2010. “There hadn’t been any mapping of the glaciers in the past. The previously stated figures were all estimates. Now we can say the actual snow covered area in the region,” claimed Bajracharya who has been involved in glacier study for more than a decade.
The IPCC had mentioned in its controversial report published in 2007 that the glaciers in the Himalayas would disappear by 2035. It was later admitted to be a mistake. However, Pachauri said that it could undoubtedly be said that the glaciers were melting at a rapid rate and the mistake is only the year that was mentioned in the report.