Wednesday, February 08, 2012

The Himalayas and nearby peaks have lost no ice in past 10 years, study shows

The self-correcting nature of science at work. From The Guardian:

The world's greatest snow-capped peaks, which run in a chain from the Himalayas to Tian Shan on the border of China and Kyrgyzstan, have lost no ice over the last decade, new research shows.

The discovery has stunned scientists, who had believed that around 50bn tonnes of meltwater were being shed each year and not being replaced by new snowfall. [...]

The scientists are careful to point out that lower-altitude glaciers in the Asian mountain ranges – sometimes dubbed the "third pole" – are definitely melting. Satellite images and reports confirm this. But over the study period from 2003-10 enough ice was added to the peaks to compensate.

In brief, they had at first been basing calculations on glaciated regions that were easiest to reach, on the lower slopes. Now with this more sophisticated equipment, they can measure the ice fields further up, and factor them in. The scientists hasten to insist that global warming is still happening, and that this new finding is a refinement, not a refutation, of that fact. But don't expect to hear too much of that from blogs which will misrepresent this news.

I just wish I understood the science better, so I could follow along more intelligently.