Hugh Pickens writes "The Himalayas, home to some 10,000 glaciers, are the main source of replenishment to lakes, streams, and some of the continent's mightiest rivers, on which millions of people depend for their water supplies. Since the 1960s, the acreage covered by Himalayan glaciers has declined by more than 20 percent with a rate of warming twice the global average over the past 30 years. Now Live Science reports that tiny particles of pollution known as 'black carbon' — and not heat-trapping greenhouse gases — may be causing much of the rapid melting of glaciers in the Himalayas. 'Tibet's glaciers are retreating at an alarming rate,' says James Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City. 'Black soot is probably responsible for as much as half of the glacial melt, and greenhouse gases are responsible for the rest.' The circulation of the atmosphere in the region causes much of the soot-laden air to 'pile up' against the Himalayas. The soot mixes with other dust from nearby deserts, creating a massive brown cloud visible from space that absorbs incoming solar radiation. As this layer heats up in the Himalayan foothills, it rises and enhances the seasonal northward flow of humid monsoon winds, forcing moisture and hot air up the slopes of the mountain range."
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