Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Glacier variations and climate change in the central Himalaya over the past few decades

  • Jiawen Ren (a1) (a2), Zhefan Jing (a1), Jianchen Pu (a1) and Xiang Qin (a1)

Abstract

Glacier variation is one of many indicators of climate change. Repeat measurements of the glacier terminus positions for selected glaciers in the central Himalaya document that they have been in a state of continuous retreat over the past few decades. Since the 1960s the average retreat rate on the north slope of Qomolangma (Mount Everest) is 5.5–9.5ma-1 and on Xixiabangma it is 4.0–5.2ma-1. Many glaciers on the south slope of the central Himalaya have been in retreat, and recently their retreat rate has accelerated. Ice-core studies show that the annual accumulation on these glaciers has fluctuated, but over the last century it has declined. It decreased rapidly in the 1960s and has remained consistently below the long-term mean thereafter. Meteorological station records indicate that the annual mean temperature in the region has slowly increased, particularly during the summer months. The strongest warming has occurred in the last 30 years. These data suggest that the current glacier retreat is due to the combined effect of reduced precipitation and warmer temperatures, and, if these conditions continue, the glaciers in the region will continue to shrink.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Glacier variations and climate change in the central Himalaya over the past few decades
      Available formats
      ×

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Glacier variations and climate change in the central Himalaya over the past few decades
      Available formats
      ×

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Glacier variations and climate change in the central Himalaya over the past few decades
      Available formats
      ×

Copyright

References

Hide All
Ahrens, C.D. 1994. Meteorology today: an introduction to weather, climate, and the environment. Fifth edition. Minneapolis, MN/St Paul, MN: West Publishing.
Duan, K., Yao, T., Pu, J. and Sun, W.. 2002. Response of monsoon variability in Himalayas to global warming. Chinese Sci. Bull., 47(21), 18421845.
Duan, K., Yao, T. and Thompson, L.G.. 2004. Low-frequency of southern Asian monsoon variability using a 295-year record from the Dasuopu ice core in the central Himalayas. Geophys. Res. Lett., 31(16), L16209. (10.1029/2004GL020015.)
Fujita, K., Nakawo, M., Fujii, Y. and Paudyal, P.. 1997. Change in glaciers in Hidden Valley, Mukut Himal, Nepal Himalayas, from 1974 to 1994. J. Glaciol., 43(145), 583588.
Fujita, K., Takeuchi, N. and Seko, K.. 1998. Glaciological observations of Yala Glacier in Langtang Valley, Nepal Himalayas, 1994 and 1996. Bull. Glacier Res., 16, 7581.
Fujita, K., Kadota, T., Rana, B., Kayastha, R.B. and Ageta, Y.. 2001. Shrinkage of Glacier AX010 in Shorong region, Nepal Himalayas in the 1990s. Bull. Glacier Res., 18, 5154.
Hou, S., Qin, D., Wake, C.P. and Mayewski, P.A.. 1999. Correspondence. Abrupt decrease in recent snow accumulation at Mount Qomolangma (Everest), Himalaya. J. Glaciol., 45(151), 585586.
Hou, S., Qin, D., Wake, C.P., Mayewski, P.A., Ren, J. and Yang, Q.. 2000. Climatological significance of an ice core net-accumulation record at Mt. Qomolangma (Everest). Chinese Sci. Bull., 45(3), 259264.
Houghton, J.T. and 7 others. 2001. Climate change 2001: the scientific basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge, etc., Cambridge University Press.
Kadota, T., Fujita, K., Seko, K., Kayastha, R.B. and Ageta, Y.. 1997. Monitoring and prediction of shrinkage of a small glacier in the Nepal Himalaya. Ann. Glaciol., 24, 9094.
Kang, S., Wake, C.P., Qin, D., Mayewski, P.A. and Yao, T.. 2000. Monsoon and dust signals recorded in Dasuopu glacier, Tibetan Plateau. J. Glaciol., 46(153), 222226.
Oerlemans, J. 2005. Extracting a climate signal from 169 glacier records. Science, 308(5722), 675677.
Paterson, W.S.B. 1994. The physics of glaciers. Third edition. Oxford, etc., Elsevier.
Qin, D., ed. 2002. Summary report of assessment on environment change in West China. In Qin, D., ed. Assessment on environment change in West China. Synthesis Volume. Beijing, Science Press, 180. [In Chinese.]
Qin, D., ed. 2005. Climate and environment changes in China. Vol. 1. Beijing, Science Press. [In Chinese with English summary.]
Qin, D. and 9 others. 2000. Evidence for recent climate change from ice cores in the central Himalaya. Ann. Glaciol., 31, 153158.
Qin, D. and 6 others. 2002. Preliminary results from the chemical records of an 80.4m ice core recovered from East Rongbuk Glacier, Qomolangma (Mount Everest), Himalaya. Ann. Glaciol., 35, 278284.
Ren, B. 1988. Recent variations of modern glaciers in China. In Shi, Y., ed. Introduction of glaciers in China. Beijing, Science Press, 171186. [In Chinese.]
Seko, K., Yabuki, H., Nakawo, M., Sakai, A., Kadota, T. and Yamada, Y.. 1998. Changing surface features of Khumbu Glacier, Nepal Himalayas revealed by SPOT images. Bull. Glacier Res., 16, 3341.
Shi, Y.F., ed. 2003. An assessment of the issues of climatic shift from warm-dry to warm-wet in Northwest China. Beijing, Meteorological Press. [In Chinese with English abstract.]
Shi, Y., Huang, M. and Ren, B.. 1988. An introduction to the glaciers in China. Beijing, Science Press. [In Chinese]
Shi, Y., Shen, Y. and Hu, R.. 2002. Preliminary study on signal, impact and foreground of climatic shift from warm-dry to warm-humid in northwest China. J. Glaciol. Geocryol., 24(3), 219226.
Thompson, L.G., Yao, T., Mosley-Thompson, E., Davis, M.E., Henderson, K.A. and Lin, P.. 2000. A high-resolution millennial record of the south Asian monsoon from Himalayan ice cores. Science, 289(5486), 19161919.
Tian, L., Masson-Delmotte, V., Stievenard, M., Yao, T. and Jouzel, J.. 2001. Tibetan Plateau summer monsoon northward extent revealed by measurements of water stable isotopes. J. Geophys. Res., 106(D22), 28,08128,088.
Tian, L. and 7 others. 2003. Oxygen-18 concentrations in recent precipitation and ice cores on the Tibetan Plateau. J. Geophys. Res., 108(D9), 4293. (10.1029/2002JD002173.)
Wang, S., Gong, D., Zhai, P., Cau, J. and Mu, Q.. 2002. Climate change. In Wang, S. and Dong, G., eds. Environmental characteristics and change in West China. (Vol. 1 of Assessment on environment change in West China, ed. Qin, D.) Beijing, Science Press, 2972. [In Chinese.]
Yamada, T. and 7 others. 1992. Fluctuations of the glaciers from the 1970s to 1989 in the Khumbu, Shorong and Langtang regions, Nepal Himalayas. Bull. Glacier Res., 10, 1119.
Yao, T., Pu, J., Wang, N. and Tian, L.. 1999. A new type of ice formation zone found in the Himalayas. Chinese Sci. Bull., 44(5), 469473.
Yao, T., Duan, K. and Tian, L.. 2000. Glacial accumulation record in the Dasuopu ice core and Indian summer monsoon rainfall in the past 400 years. Sci. China D, 30(6), 619627.
Yao, T. and 9 others. 2002. Temperature and methane records over the last 2 ka in Dasuopu ice core. Sci. China D, 45(12), 10681074.
Yao, T.D., Wang, Y.Q., Liu, S.Y., Pu, J.C., Shen, Y.P. and Lu, A.X.. 2004. Recent glacial retreat in High Asia in China and its impact on water resource in Northwest China. Sci. China D, 47, 10651075.
Zhang, D. 2001. The modern glaciological environment in the central Himalayas and Indian monsoon. (PhD thesis, Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute.)
Zhang, D., Qin, D. and Hou, S.. 2003. Climatic significance of δ18O record of a 80.36m ice core from East Rongbu Glacier in Mt. Qomolangma. Sci. China D, 33(3), 264270. [In Chinese.]
Zhao, Z., Gao, X., Tang, M. and Xu, Y.. 2002. Projections of climate change. In Ding, Y., ed. Projections of environment change in West China. (Vol. 2 of Assessment on environment change in West China, ed. Qin, D.) Beijing, Science Press, 16–46. [In Chinese.]

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed