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The Himalayas and Nearby Peaks Have Lost No Ice In Past 10 Years, Study Shows 409

Posted by timothy
from the antifreeze-be-damned dept.
DesScorp writes "A story from UK's Guardian reports on a study of ice levels from the Himalayas area, and finds that no significant melting has occurred, despite earlier predictions of losses of up to 50 billion tons of ice. 'The very unexpected result was the negligible mass loss from high mountain Asia, which is not significantly different from zero,' said Professor Jonathan Bamber, who also warns that 8 years simply isn't enough time to draw conclusions. 'It is awfully dangerous to take an eight-year record and predict even the next eight years, let alone the next century,' he said." Readers have sent in a few other stories today relating to melting (or persisting) ice around the globe; read on for more.
bonch writes "New research from the University of Colorado concludes that the polar ice caps are melting less than previously thought. Almost 230 billion tons of ice annually melt into the ocean, 30% less than past predictions. The new data comes from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment satellite, which provides more accurate estimates than previous methods."

The earth being a complex thing, though, note that these observations don't mean an end to predictions of elevated sea level.

Finally, an anonymous reader writes with another ice story: "NASA's Terra satellite saw a huge crack in the Pine Island Glacier in Antarctica and it is all set to give rise to an iceberg the size of Manhattan! The huge gash in the snow is 30 kilometers (or 19 miles) long and nearly 100 meters wide, and is widening every passing minute. This is expected to create an iceberg more than 900 square kilometer in area, as compared to the 785 square kilometer area of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Staten Island and Bronx combined, said NASA."
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The Himalayas and Nearby Peaks Have Lost No Ice In Past 10 Years, Study Shows

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  • by bonch (38532) * on Thursday February 09, 2012 @06:27PM (#38988987)

    I think the lesson to take away is to strive for a rational, "healthily skeptical" position when presented with climate data. It's just such an unpredictable thing--literally, a complicated system the size of the entire world with a scale spanning molecules, continents, and beyond. The media doesn't help, either--it's drive for alarmism tends to overly simplify or exaggerate situations, and perhaps even the scientists involved get caught up in it.

    For example, do you remember how polar bears drowning in the Arctic sea due to global warming were cited as a reason to classify them as an endangered species, and how they were used as a symbol of climate change in Al Gore's movie? The lead scientist was actually placed on administrative leave [humanevents.com], and several questions were raised about how the bears actually died and how the corpses were observed from 1,500 up in a helicopter rather than examined to actually determine their cause of death. Whether or not they were really drowning, there just wasn't enough data to come to the conclusion that was presented to the public with the level of certainty that was conveyed.

    Unfortunately, if you're someone who agrees with doing the logical thing--reducing the negative environmental impact of humans as much as possible, within reasonable economic boundaries--the exaggerations and alarmism sweep you away into being on a "side", and you're shoved right in the middle of the mosh pit of tribal politics. If you question a conclusion or suggest a way of doing things, and you maintain a nuanced or balanced position, you get shit on by everybody, and nothing gets accomplished.

    George Carlin did an insightful (and profanity-laden) bit on alarmism in modern society [youtube.com].

    • by Mashiki (184564)

      I could never figure how that was passed for truth. Damnedable polar bears range everywhere to find whatever they want. Back oh I think it was twoish years ago when I was snowmobiling through Pickle Lake(5ish hours north of Thunder Bay), there were warnings posted of unconfirmed polar bear sightings and travelers should use caution in the wilds. Now those of us who've been in the wilds of ontario well, we're used to black bears, wild cats(cougar/lynx, etc), and all other of other stuff. Normally you don

    • by dougmwne (958276) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @06:54PM (#38989315)

      For example, do you remember how polar bears drowning in the Arctic sea due to global warming were cited as a reason to classify them as an endangered species, and how they were used as a symbol of climate change in Al Gore's movie? The lead scientist was actually placed on administrative leave [humanevents.com], and several questions were raised about how the bears actually died and how the corpses were observed from 1,500 up in a helicopter rather than examined to actually determine their cause of death. Whether or not they were really drowning, there just wasn't enough data to come to the conclusion that was presented to the public with the level of certainty that was conveyed.

      The Charles Monnett (polar bear scientist) investigation was likely politically motivated since nothing has come of it, but either way, the agency is on-record saying that his temporary administrative leave was unrelated to his polar bear research. He is back to work as of last August. This entire climate debate is so politically charged that a "rational "healthily skeptical" position" probably doesn't exist.

      Director Bromwich:
      " I can assure you that the decision had nothing to do with his scientific work, or anything relating to a five-year old journal article, as advocacy groups and the news media have incorrectly speculated. Nor is this a "witch hunt" to suppress the work of our many scientists and discourage them from speaking the truth. Quite the contrary. In this case, it was the result of new information on a separate subject brought to our attention very recently."

      http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/boemre-director-says-offshore-oil-agency-not-witch-hunt [alaskadispatch.com]

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Sarten-X (1102295)

      This is Slashdot. Balanced positions mean you're obviously a shill for whatever the argument's opposing.

      You're obviously a shill for the rational-thought camp. Most likely Consumers Union, the NHTSA, or maybe PBS. Probably PBS.

    • Regarding the polar bear scientist Charles Monett, it seems to be one of those frothy bits that get people excited when someone who said something they didn't like gets the least bit of tarnish. An email from Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement Director Michael Bromwich states:

      We are limited in what we can say about a pending investigation, but I can assure you that the decision had nothing to do with his scientific work, or anything relating to a five-year old journal article, as

    • by hey! (33014) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @09:12PM (#38990685) Homepage Journal

      In fairness to Dr. Monnett's reputation, if you cite the story that he was suspended in July, you should also note that the suspension was lifted several weeks later. Also in the name of fairness you should note that the reason he could not substantiate his observations to the IG's investigators (as reported in the article) is that they'd seized his papers. When those papers were returned the interview notes and other supporting evidence was found in them.

      To all appearances this investigation is petering out, if it is not dead already. But let us grant that this is not necessarily the case. If so, *we don't know* the ultimate outcome. But should the investigation ultimately *exonerate* Dr. Monnett and Mr. Gleason, should their work be completely *vindicated*, the damage to their reputation is already done, and through means from which they could not possibly have defended themselves.

      You cannot hold up an investigation, especially one with such political implications, as prima facie evidence of guilt. That's just commons sense. It *used* to be called "common decency". Even if the accusations that have been floated are proved true -- an event that seems increasingly unlikely -- the reckless use of the existence of an investigation to sully these men's reputations is repugnant to me. *Anybody* can manufacture an accusation. And any accusation of serious wrongdoing should be investigated. But it is that very necessity which makes the abuse of an investigation's mere *existence* for political ends an intolerable threat to individual liberty.

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Thursday February 09, 2012 @06:27PM (#38988989)

    Zealots...to your respective corners!

    In this corner, we have Chicken Little, the frothing-at-the-mouth environmentalist who thinks the world is about to explode and every cute polar cub in going to drown if we don't do something RIGHT NOW! NOW! NOW! NOW!

    And in this corner, we have Jesus H. Capitalist, the denier who thinks that pumping shit-tons of crap into the atmosphere and abolishing the EPA are good things because BP and Chevron say it's okay and Jesus says "Vote Republican!"

    Gentlemen, when the bell sounds...begin your crazed hyperbole! Remember, bonus points are given for the most convoluted Nazi analogy.

    Ding, ding.

    • I want a third corner for gun-toting-gay-atheist-libertarians who think that abolishing the EPA is a good thing, aren't worried about a trace gas in the atmosphere, don't want prayer in school, and just want to find and marry Mr. Right :)

  • by hsthompson69 (1674722) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @06:30PM (#38989049)

    ...Big Oil must've airlifted extra snow up there when nobody was looking! :)

    • by Sentrion (964745)

      I'm not believing it until I hear from the boots on the ground that the ice and snow is legit, and not that Styrofoam and glitter they use in Hollywood.

  • by unity100 (970058) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @06:36PM (#38989111) Homepage Journal

    CLIMATE change means, climates will change locally, and in micro-climate level.

    global warming means, the AVERAGE world temperature will rise. 2 degrees celsius rise in a temperature, wouldnt be felt in your locale if happened. you wouldnt notice it.

    but, if AVERAGE world temperature rises by 2 degrees celsius, this means that to effect that AVERAGE rise, innumerable local and micro-climates around the world will change, in WHATEVER fashion.

    hence, the CLIMATE CHANGE term. a more correct term that describes the EFFECT that the CAUSE, global warming, has.

    some locales may not see ANY change. some locales may get freaking hot. some locales may get cold. some locales may become rainforests. some locales can go humid, some go dry. some become exceedingly windy. ANYthing goes.

    so, some ice melting around the world, some staying, is perfectly normal.

    climate change is more destructive, because it is impossible to predict what will change and how.

    • by suprcvic (684521) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @06:50PM (#38989265)
      So basically what you're saying is that CLIMATE CHANGE may cause things to happen that have already happened to the planet before? Like when the Sahara was a lush forest? Somehow in our human ego-maniacal way we must be the cause of this change because it has NEVER happened before.
    • some locales may not see ANY change. some locales may get freaking hot. some locales may get cold. some locales may become rainforests. some locales can go humid, some go dry. some become exceedingly windy. ANYthing goes.

      All of that can happen when global average temperature stays the same.

      All of that can happen when global average temperature *falls*.

      All of that can happen when global average temperature *rises*.

      And actually, not only *can* it happen in all three cases, it *does* happen in all three cases!

  • by i kan reed (749298) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @06:38PM (#38989133) Homepage Journal

    Just remember that 10 years ago "skeptics"(how exactly they define that term, I don't know) were pointing to how little ice was being lost from Antarctica in the preceding 5 years as indisputable evidence of a hoax.

    As evidence that people believed this: http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=antarctica+gaining+ice&source=newssearch&cd=1&ved=0CDMQqQIwAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.csmonitor.com%2F2002%2F0118%2Fp02s01-usgn.html&ei=Yko0T6zmIYrXtgegk4mwAg&usg=AFQjCNHtA3NtryZuUSi1k3FLEueaP9NWfg [google.com]

    Whoops, right?

  • by tp1024 (2409684) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @06:41PM (#38989163)
    Just doesn't work. [guardian.co.uk]

    The science is settled? No. The science is shoddy.
  • Controversy aside (Score:4, Insightful)

    by istartedi (132515) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @06:48PM (#38989225) Journal

    Controversy over AGW aside, this means nothing. The world can warm while some regions gain, lose, or maintain ice. It's GLOBAL climate change so what matters is the GLOBAL ice pack.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Sentrion (964745)

      But this is AMERICA, dammit, and we don't care about ice packs on the other side of the world. What about OUR ice? That's what we should be concerned about! Are we going to be able to ski in Colorado next year or not? Somebody answer! If the answer is yes then I am going to rip the catalytic converter off my SUV tomorrow to cash in the Palladium value.

      (and yes, I was trying to be over-dramatically satirical).

  • by Chemisor (97276) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @06:50PM (#38989271)

    In related news from last year, global sea levels dropped 6mm over 2010 [physorg.com].

  • by RichMan (8097) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @06:52PM (#38989299)

    The new study used a pair of satellites, called Grace, which measure tiny changes in the Earth's gravitational pull. When ice is lost, the gravitational pull weakens and is detected by the orbiting spacecraft.

    Bristol University glaciologist Prof Jonathan Bamber, who was not part of the research team, said: "The very unexpected result was the negligible mass loss from high mountain Asia, which is not significantly different from zero."
    --

    So what they were measuring was mass loss. Not exactly ice loss.

    But in general ice/water moves a lot faster than rock. Still rock ways more than water. So they assumed all changes or not were ice/water.
    What if the moutains got a bit taller as the ice was removed? That would seem to balance out the loss of ice.

    Hmm, "The Himalayas continue to rise more than 1 cm a year "
    I sure hope they at least subtract out that known growth rate. 1cm of rock over the entire mountain range is a lot of mass.

    Anyone have the actual article did they subtrace mass increases due to mountain growth? And how did they calculate mountain growth. These things can go from positive to negative really quickly with a small change fudge factors like this.

    • Isostacy (Score:5, Informative)

      by PeterM from Berkeley (15510) <petermardahl AT yahoo DOT com> on Thursday February 09, 2012 @07:13PM (#38989539) Journal

      You might have nailed it. If you remove the mass from the top of the Himalayas in the form of water, the reduced weight will cause the mountains to rebound upward from the pressure from underneath.

      Effectively, missing water mass is replaced by mineral mass, in what might be an almost perfect balance.

      The term for this is isostacy, there's a wikipedia article on it.

      --PM

  • INtersting note (Score:3, Insightful)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland@ya ... m minus math_god> on Thursday February 09, 2012 @06:55PM (#38989325) Homepage Journal

    'Normal' cycles would indicate that they should be increasing; the fact that they remain 0 is still a concern.

  • Skepticism (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 09, 2012 @06:55PM (#38989327)

    >who also warns that 8 years simply isn't enough time to draw conclusions

    Right, 8 years isn't long enough to draw conclusions when the 8 years of evidence doesn't point to the conclusion you want it to.

    But if it points to the conclusion you want, then it's all the proof you need.

    (Sorry... I think there are MANY forces at work that shape our climate, and people are pretty arrogant to think they understand all of them.)

  • by wisebabo (638845) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @06:55PM (#38989333) Journal

    I am glad that seemingly hard facts are being presented.

    While I still think the overwhelming evidence supports the hypothesis that 1) GW is occurring and 2) man is responsible, at least this is better than the ranting and raving that I've come to expect from skeptics.

    Of course my thinking is sustained by much more complete data sets of a GLOBAL perspective provided by climatologists. There was a recent animation produced by NASA recently that showed a map of worldwide temperature readings for the past 150 years. (I submitted it to slashdot, for some reason it was rejected). If the skeptics can continue to produce data that shows the GW is not happening I'm open to changing my thinking. But again, from what I've been following in the literature, there hasn't been much supporting their point of view.

    Look, I'm not ideologically opposed to fossil fuels per say; with the vastly increased amounts of natural gas in the U.S. I'm happy to use a fuel that doesn't directly fund people who hate us. However I'm also not one to overlook an inconvenient truth.

    • by hsthompson69 (1674722) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @07:41PM (#38989891)

      I still think the overwhelming evidence supports the hypothesis that 1) GW is occurring and 2) man is responsible,

      You can have #1 without #2.

      On top of that, the implied #3 (GW is a bad thing) is also disputable.

      So, say we agree on the actual temperature *data* observed and stipulate to #1. What data would convince you that #2, or #3 aren't true?

      • by riverat1 (1048260)

        On top of that, the implied #3 (GW is a bad thing) is also disputable.

        The recent /. post on the Little Ice Age [slashdot.org] pointed out that all the effects of the Little Ice Age were caused by an average temperature drop of 1 degree Centigrade. Now with Global Warming we're talking about greater than 1 degree C of temperature rise. Why would you expect the effects from temperature rise to be any less drastic than they were with the drop?

    • by jfengel (409917) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @07:44PM (#38989915) Homepage Journal

      Yep. That's science, doing exactly what the deniers claim it doesn't do, and that's the reason why those who value knowledge over ideology favor the scientists over the deniers.

      I've given up worrying about the climate change in itself. The denialists have won, and will win, until it's far too late (as it may already be). I'd kind of like to see science win out over ignorance, and I think science still has a slight edge. It maintains that edge by being the ones who take into account all of the facts to reach true conclusions, and altering their understanding when new facts come to light to keep their conclusions in line with the best understanding.

      As a way to understand the world, it's more effective than ideology. As a way to make things happen, it's getting trounced, at least in this area. Perhaps I should care about the latter more than the former, but having lost there, I take what solace I can in at least trying to understand the world. Even if it means that some day the retards get to score extra points.

      • by Svartalf (2997) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @08:19PM (#38990221) Homepage

        You know... Calling someone "deniers" is quite simply not science at all- it's just another form of religion when you start down that path.

        • Not really (Score:3, Informative)

          by aepervius (535155)
          They are called denier because 1) they are not climate scientist but still pretend to bring up OFT debunked theory to explain away their "skepticism" (solar activity anyone?) and 2) when pointed out that it has been debunked and linked to real climate or whatever they immediately distrust that source of info whereas 3) at the same time they link or accept much more dodgy source of info 4) total ignorance of the real research and refusal to actually publish a falsification of climate change, at which point t
  • Seems to me (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tmosley (996283)
    Seems to me this points toward something other than CO2 causing the warming. Something like, I don't know, water vapor, of which there is little in the Asian highlands, but plenty around the much lower areas where the glaciers are melting.

    Even AGW people admit that water is the REAL problem, and that CO2 is just a trigger for increases in that heat-storing gas. But for some reason they seem to chafe at the idea of using condensers and other methods to remove the water from the air. For some reason the
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Xyrus (755017)

      Seems to me this points toward something other than CO2 causing the warming.

      And you would be wrong. It helps if you read the research on the subject. Also, the IPCC report has some very good layman explanations of the phenomena involved with planetary warming.

      Something like, I don't know, water vapor, of which there is little in the Asian highlands, but plenty around the much lower areas where the glaciers are melting.

      Actually, it is far more likely a result of GHGs in the lower troposphere preventing thermal radiation from escaping, which is already a noted result in stratospheric cooling.

      Even AGW people admit that water is the REAL problem, and that CO2 is just a trigger for increases in that heat-storing gas.

      Water vapor isn't a problem. It is a result of higher temperatures induced by higher concentrations of GHGs. You have your feedbacks a little backward.

      But for some reason they seem to chafe at the idea of using condensers and other methods to remove the water from the air.

      I'

  • by Colonel Korn (1258968) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @06:59PM (#38989385)

    Shouldn't the vast global environmentalist "AGW" conspiracy have prevented these scientists from publishing their results? Isn't climate science controlled by a crowd that ensures their future prosperity by preventing dissenting opinions? How could this be?!

  • I'm assuming we're going to find the same kind of issue with the data that we did with polar snow fall. Yeah, it was higher at the poles because there was more snow melt and more humidity, but the overall there was a loss of snow.

  • by eyenot (102141) <eyenot@hotmail.com> on Thursday February 09, 2012 @07:17PM (#38989579) Homepage

    Could it be because they haven't received a sufficient level of pollution, or the ice and snow are too cold to dissolve and allow the pollutants to dissolve in water? Adding solute to solvent depresses the freezing point. Just shortly (a year or two) after we started getting news about noticeable and unavoidable amounts of pollutants showing up in the cubic meters of air tested atop the Swiss Alps, we started getting news about the imminent collapse of the Alps' mostly glacial makeup. But that's because the alps, just warm enough for the glacier ice to melt just enough on the surface to admit pollutants, ended up with a depressed freezing point. On the other hand, I don't know about the quality of air on the Himalayas, but it could be possible that the ice never comes below freezing and so even if there were pollutants settling on the snow, they wouldn't make it into solution.

  • by wkcole (644783) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @07:19PM (#38989609)

    Note that this is not a reply to any particular prior comment...

    From TFA:

    The scientists are careful to point out that lower-altitude glaciers in the Asian mountain ranges – sometimes dubbed the "third pole" – are definitely melting. Satellite images and reports confirm this. But over the study period from 2003-10 enough ice was added to the peaks to compensate

    That is exactly what one would expect for some degree of overall warming. The highest parts of the Himalayas are still high and cold enough to freeze out every bit of moisture in the air that brings them snow, but that air (mostly monsoon flow from the south) is generally moister because it and the ocean it has passed are significantly warmer than in the past. The result is low glaciers melting back from the warm air and rain instead of snow and higher protoglacial snowpack growing faster than the existing glacier paths can move out.

    This is very basic weather science: more snow in routinely cold places does not mean they are getting colder, it means they are getting more injections of warm humid air. Of course that's only true as long as the cold predominates, because eventually it all turns to rain. I've watched this happen in Michigan, where we've gone from record snowfall years (but not record cold) to unusually warm and soaked-through winters.

  • by Spad (470073) <slashdotNO@SPAMspad.co.uk> on Thursday February 09, 2012 @07:19PM (#38989617) Homepage

    It doesn't matter what studies you publish regarding climate change, the pro-AGW people will say that it either supports their claims or that the data in the study isn't enough to draw substantive conclusions from. Meanwhile, the anti-AGW folks will say that either the data in the study isn't enough to draw substantive conclusions from or that it supports their claims.

    Meanwhile, the rest of us get to sit around trying to work out if a) mankind's effect on the environment is a significant enough contributor to the current climate trend that anything we can reasonably change is going to make any difference and b) if there's any chance in hell that you can get a *room* of random people to agree to noticeably reduce their energy consumption, let alone an entire planet.

    • by tnk1 (899206) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @08:13PM (#38990169)

      You know, I think that if everyone who believes AGW is a serious danger got together and used their political donations to instead fund a private foundation to support technological research to make "green" advancements more cost effective, and then shop those to private business, there would be more than enough money get the job taken care of, and without the political BS.

      Some people just don't like the government telling them what to do. And other people are pretty annoyed with being forced to do something that one billion Chinese can't be bothered with. And yes, I know that they are working on green energy too, but really, if people think that's really making up for the sheer ecological disaster that China is, they have never been to China.

      Point is, those who are trying to get the government to stop AGW are just as obstinate and counterproductive in their own way as the people who simply ignore or deny AGW. Just get as many people on your side as possible, collect the money from them, and do the PR and product development yourselves.

  • by dtjohnson (102237) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @07:50PM (#38989963)

    The funniest quote was from the University of Colorado Professor Wahr who states: ""It is awfully dangerous to take an eight-year record and predict even the next eight years, let alone the next century," he said." That's what us deniers say! Maybe we are reaching a 'consensus.' He prefaces his comments by saying: "Our results and those of everyone else show we are losing a huge amount of water into the oceans every year, people should be just as worried about the melting of the world's ice as they were before." I can assure Professor Wahr that denier concern levels about the melting of the world's ice is unchanged from before the release of the study. Most importantly for Prof. Wahr, 'everyone else' is still solidly behind the 'we are losing huge amounts of ice' school of thought in spite of the pesky Himalaya study.

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