Greenland ice and Himalayan glaciers: What’s going on?by Quirin Schiermeier, The Great Beyond, Nature blog, November 13, 2009
Rising temperatures cause melting and retreat of large ice sheets, sea ice, and mountain glaciers – that’s pretty much common knowledge by now, as are implications on sea level, ecosystems, water supply and natural hazard risk. But a couple of news stories this week may cause confusion.
First and foremost this is not a peer reviewed report and nothing scientific can be claimed based on 25 glaciers out of over 15,000 glaciers in the Himalayas and 46,300 in the Himalayas and Tibetan region.Link: http://blogs.nature.com/news/thegreatbeyond/2009/11/greenland_ice_and_himalayan_gl.html
Glaciers response time to climate change depends on their size; larger glaciers take longer to heat up and respond than smaller glaciers. Thus, in a mountain range such as the Himalayas with over 15,000 glaciers some will be stationary or advancing based on what climate change happened over 100 years ago. Some glaciers are surging glaciers that advance and retreat due to dynamics of ice flow and not climate. Glaciers do respond on the short term to increases in precipitation as well as temperature but with time temperature will win.
At the end of the day we have to go with the balance of evidence and that is true for glaciers as well. In short, if Jairam Ramesh can write up these results showing just how he came to his conclusion for a quality peer reviewed journal then he should do so.
Otherwise the report certainly does not challenge the conventional wisdom. I certainly concur with Ramesh that it is high time that the government of India makes investments in the study of the glaciers in the Himalaya's as they will certainly be impacted by their loss.