75% of Himalayan glaciers retreating

A new study by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) shows that 75% of the Himalayan glaciers are retreating, on average by 3.75 kilometres over a period of 15 years (1989-2004).

According to an article in the Times of India, the study used satellite images to examine 2,190 glaciers. Out of the glaciers studied, only 8% have advanced and 17% are stable. The experts also physically visited the glaciers to compare the results. The study, commissioned by the Indian Ministry of Environment and Forests, included the basins of the Indus, Ganges and Brahmaputra, as well as parts of China, Nepal, Bhutan and Pakistan.

The gloomy findings come after raging controversy over claims in the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC) report that Himalayan glaciers were likely to disappear by 2035. It was later discovered that the claims were based on popular articles, rather than peer-reviewed scientific reports.

Full details of the study will be published shortly in “Current Science.”  No doubt they will raise fresh concerns over the health of Asia’s “water tower”.