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Dust Accelerates Melting Of Himalayan Glaciers

By Countercurrents.org

09 August, 2013

Ramesh Singh at the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences of Chapman University in California said: Dust enhances water vapor and carbon monoxide in the atmosphere resulting in the warming up of the troposphere, especially in the western parts of the Himalayan region accelerating the melting of glaciers.

He added that pollution in the Indo-Gangetic plains from industrial activities, biomass burning and sometimes forest fires further contributed to the warming of troposphere and the Himalayan snow/glaciers.

A Davos datelined report in the Nepalese daily The Himalayan said:

Ramesh Singh was professor of the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur. He was asked by the International Association of Cryospheric Sciences (IACS) to submit a detailed proposal bringing out objectives of a working group to study the impact of dust and black carbon from forest fires on the accelerated melting of snow and glaciers on the Himalayas.

While at Kanpur, Singh used optical and microwave remote sensing satellite data extensively over the Himalayan region. He also had a research project for three years jointly with the Snow and Avalanche Institute in Manali under the Defense Ministry.

While analyzing the satellite data, Singh noticed during the winter season a vast pool of atmospheric pollution over the Indo-Gangetic plains reaching to the Himalayan foothills.

“The dust which is very common in the western parts of India almost every year (during April-June) reaches to the western parts of the Himalayas,” Singh told news agency IANS.

In the eastern parts of the Himalayan region, black carbon from the forest fires in countries on the eastern India “deposits on the snow/glaciers of the Himalayan and Tibetan region”, Singh said.

According to Singh, it is difficult to say which one affects the glaciers most — black carbon or the dust.

“In theory, black carbon is a lot more effective but generally the dust concentration is much higher than black carbon and therefore dust can have larger impact,” he said.

"It really depends on the relative concentrations of dust and black carbon and a coordinated study is needed to understand this", said Singh.

The IACS has proposed to set up a working group to study the impact of dust and black carbon from forest fires on the accelerated melting of snow and glaciers on the Himalayas.

The decision was taken at a recent meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

It should be mentioned that cryosphere collectively describes the portions of the Earth’s surface where water is in the form of ice, snow, glaciers and frozen ground. The IACS was created in 2007 as a separate body within the International Union of Geology and Geophysics (IUGG) to promote research in this area.






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