Chinese Science Bulletin

, Volume 49, Issue 1, pp 65–69

Glacier variations and climate warming and drying in the central Himalayas

  • Jiawen Ren
  • Dahe Qin
  • Shichang Kang
  • Shugui Hou
  • Jianchen Pu
  • Zhefan Jing


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.


Himalayas glacier retreat climate warming ice core record 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    IPCC, Climate Change 2001: The Science Basis. Contribution of Work Group I to Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Cambridge, UK and New York, NY, USA: Cambridge University Press, 2001, 99–181.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Ye Duzheng (ed.), A Preliminary Study of Global Change in China (Part 1, Outline) (in Chinese), Beijing: Meteorology Press, 1992, 24–59.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Qin Dahe (ed.), Summary report of assessment on environment change in West China, Assessment on Environment Change in West China (in Chinese), Beijing: Science Press, 2002, Summary Volume, 1–80.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Shi Yafeng, Shen Yongping, Hu Ruji, Preliminary study on signal, impact and foreground of climatic shift from warm-dry to warm-humid in Northwest China, Journal of Glaciology and Geocryology (in Chinese), 2002, 24(3): 219–226.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Shi Yafeng (ed.), An Assessment of the Issues of Climatic Shift from Warm-dry to Warm-wet in Northwest China (in Chinese), Beijing: Meteorology Press, 2003, 1–124.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Tian, L., Masson-Delmotte, V., Stievenard, M. et al., Tibetan Plateau summer monsoon northward extent revealed by measurements of water stable isotopes, J. Geophys. Res., 2001, 106(D22): 28081–28087.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Duan Keqin, Yao Tandong, Pu Jianchen et al., Response of monsoon variability in Himalayas to global warming, Chinese Science Bulletin, 2002, 47(21): 1842–1845.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Zhang Dongqi, Qin Dahe, Hou Shugui et al., Climatic significance of δ18O record of a 80.36 m ice core from East Rongbu Glacier in Mt. Qomolangma, Science in China, Ser. D (in Chinese), 2003, 33(3): 264–270.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Ren Jiawen, Qin Dahe, Jing Zhefan, Climatic warming causes the glacier retreat in Mt. Qomolangma, Journal of Glaciology and Geocryology (in Chinese), 1998, 20(2): 183–185.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Qin Dahe, Mayewski, P. A., Wake, C. P. et al., Evidence for recent climate change from ice cores in the Himalayas, Annals of Glaciology, 2000, 31: 153–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Yao Tandong, Duan Keqin, Tian Lide et al., Glacial accumulation record in the Dasuopu ice core and Indian summer monsoon rainfall in the past 400 years, Science in China, Ser. D (in Chinese), 2000, 30(6): 619–627.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Hou Shugui, Qin Dahe, Wake, C. P. et al., Climatological significance of an ice core net-accumulation record at Mt. Qomolangma (Everest), Chinese Science Bulletin, 2000, 45(3): 259–264.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Hou Shugui, Qin Dahe, Yao Tandong et al., Recent change of the ice core accumulation rates on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, Chinese Science Bulletin, 2002, 47(20): 1746–1749.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Thompson, L. G., Yao, T., Mosley-Thompson, E. et al., A highresolution millennial record of the South Asian Monsoon from Himalayan ice cores, Science, 2000, 289(5486): 1916–1920.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Yao Tandong, L. G. Thompson, Duan Keqin et al., Temperature and methane records over the last 2ka in Dasuopu ice core, Science in China, Ser. D, 2002, 45(12): 1068–1074.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Ren Binghui, Recent variations of modern glaciers in China, Introduction of Glaciers in China (ed. Shi Yafeng) (in Chinese), Beijing: Science Press, 1988, 171–186.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Yao Tandong, Pu Jianchen, Wang Ninglian et al., A new type of ice formation zone found in the Himalayas, Chinese Science Bulletin, 1999, 44(5): 467–473.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Pu Jianchen, Yao Tandong, Wang Ninglian et al., Puruogangri Ice Field and its variations since the Little Ice Age of the northern Tibetan Plateau, Journal of Glaciology and Geocryology (in Chinese), 2002, 24(1): 87–92.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Kadota, T., Fujita, K., Seko, K. et al., Monitoring and prediction of shrinkage of a small glacier in the Nepal Himalayas, Annals of Glaciology, 1997, 24: 90–94.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Fujita, K., Nakawo, M., Fujii, Y. et al., Changes in glaciers in Hidden Valley, Mukut Himal, Nepal Himalayas, from 1974 to 1994, Journal of Glaciology, 1997, 43(145): 583–588.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Fujita, K., Takeuchi, N., Seko, K., Glaciological observations of Yala Glacier in Langtang Valley, Nepal Himalayas, 1994 and 1996, Bulletin of Glacier Research, 1998, 16: 75–81.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Fujita, K., Kadota, T., Rana, B. et al., Shrinkage of Glacier AX010 in Shorong region, Nepal Himalayas in the 1990s, Bulletin of Glacier Research, 2001, 18: 51–54.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Yamada, T., Shiraiwa, T., Iida, H. et al., Fluctuations of the glaciers from the 1970s to 1989 in the Khumbu, Shorong and Langtang regions, Nepal Himalayas, Bulletin of Glacier Research, 1992, 10: 11–19.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Seko, K., Yabuki, H., Nakawo, M. et al., Changing surface features of Khumbu Glacier, Nepal Himalayas revealed by SPOT images, Bulletin of Glacier Research, 1998, 16: 33–41.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Kang Shichang, Wake, C. P., Qin Dahe et al., Monsoon and dust signals recorded in the Dasuopu firn core, Central Himalayas Journal of Glaciology, 2000, 46(153): 222–226.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Qin Dahe, Hou Shugui, Zhang Dongqi et al., Preliminary results from the chemical records of an 80.4 m ice core recovered from East Rongbuk Glacier, Qomolangma (Mount Everest), Himalaya, Annals of Glaciology, 2002, 35: 278–284.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Paterson, W. S. B., The Physics of Glaciers, Third Edition. Oxford: Pergamon, 1994, 317–354.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Wang Shaowu, Gong Daoyi, Zhai Panmao et al., Climate change, (eds. Wang Shaowu, Dong Guanrong) Environmental characteristics and change in West China (ed. Qin Dahe), Assessment on Environment Change in West China (in Chinese), Beijing: Science Press, 2002, 1: 29–72.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Zhao Zongci, Gao Xuejie, Tang Maocang et al., Projections of climate change, Projections of environment change in West China, Assessment on Environment Change in West China (in Chinese), Beijing: Science Press, 2002, 2: 16–46.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Science in China Press 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jiawen Ren
    • 1
  • Dahe Qin
    • 1
  • Shichang Kang
    • 1
  • Shugui Hou
    • 1
  • Jianchen Pu
    • 1
  • Zhefan Jing
    • 1
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Ice Core and Cold Regions Environment, Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research InstituteChinese Academy of SciencesLanzhouChina

Personalised recommendations