, Volume 49, Issue 1, pp 65-69

Glacier variations and climate warming and drying in the central Himalayas

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Abstract

Repeat measurements of glacier terminus positions show that glaciers in the central Himalayas have been in a continuous retreat situation in the past decades. The average retreat rate is 5.5–8.7 m/a in Mt. Qomolangma (Everest) since the 1960s and 6.4 m/a in Mt. Xixiabangma since the 1980s. In recent years, the retreat rate is increasing. Ice core studies revealed that the accumulation rate of glaciers has a fluctuating decrease trend in the last century with a rapid decrease in the 1960s and a relatively steady low value afterwards. Meteorological station record indicates that the annual mean temperature has a slow increase trend but summer temperature had a larger increase in the past 30 a. All these suggest that the glacier retreat results from precipitation decrease in combination with temperature increase, and hence glacier shrinkage in this region will speed up if the climatic warming and drying continues.