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Cold War Spy Satellites Reveal Extent of Himalayan Glacier Melt

Discussion in 'Physical & Life Sciences' started by Occams Barber, Jun 21, 2019.

  1. Occams Barber

    Occams Barber Newbie Supporter

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    Cold War Spy Satellites Reveal Extent of Himalayan Glacier Melt

    Declassified Cold War, high resolution, spy satellite images have provided clear data on the level of glacial ice loss, over time, in the Himalayas. The photos, taken in the 1970s and 1980s, cover around 650 glaciers. Comparison with modern data and satellite imagery from the 2000s shows that these glaciers are now melting twice as fast as they were before 2000.

    These trends were broadly consistent across a 1200-mile strip of the Himalayas suggesting a common cause affecting the Himalayas as a whole. Analysis suggests that this level of melt would require from 0.4 to 1.4 degrees (Celsius) of warming. Local weather stations recorded warming of about 1 degree C between 2000 and 2016.

    Himalayan mountain glaciers are a key source of fresh water for major rivers, regional ecosystems and millions of human inhabitants. Eventual loss of significant glacial melt will affect downstream agriculture and the needs of human habitation. Himalayan losses are consistent with the even more rapid ice loss occurring in the European Alps. Research suggests that meltwater from mountain glaciers accounts for about a third of all sea level rise in the past 60 years. This does not include ice loss from the huge Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets.

    Source:
    Scientific American
    Cold War Spy Satellites Reveal Substantial Himalayan Glacier Melt

    upload_2019-6-22_13-42-16.png
    An oblique view of Himalayan landscape captured by a KH-9 HEXAGON satellite on December 20, 1975, on the border between eastern Nepal and Sikkim, India. Credit: Josh Maurer LDEO
    OB
     
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  2. JackRT

    JackRT Flat earther waking up ... Supporter

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    Currently glacial melt keeps streams and rivers flowing most of the year providing water for cities, industry and agriculture through spring, summer and fall. Without the glaciers we will still get the spring melt of the snow pack but the streams and rivers will virtually dry up in the other seasons. Without serious long range planning and infrastructure this could be a disaster.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2019
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  3. Occams Barber

    Occams Barber Newbie Supporter

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    Perhaps it's better than sounding no alarm at all. There's even the possibility that a struggling Indian infrastructure will be able to make some attempts at preparation.
    I doubt that the common people of Northern India will even be aware of what may be happening. That awareness will come slowly and, perhaps, too late. There is a well known (but incorrect) metaphor about boiling frogs which applies here.
    I suspect Jack and I are in agreement on this one:
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  4. Strathos

    Strathos No one important

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    You don't see how a lack of fresh water from glaciers would be detrimental to the agriculture and population of those regions?
     
  5. JackRT

    JackRT Flat earther waking up ... Supporter

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    I explained glacier loss as a serious problem not as a benefit. Your comment above is either a deliberate misrepresentation of what I said or a failure to read with understanding.
     
  6. FreeinChrist

    FreeinChrist CF Advisory team Staff Member Site Advisor Supporter

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    ADVISOR HAT

    This thread had a clean up of disruptive posts and those responding to them.

    Let's stay on topic.​
     
  7. carlv_52

    carlv_52 Active Member

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    When I lived in southern California it was during a multi-year drought at which point the Sierra snow pack was dramatically lower. Just a snapshot of things to come. Granted Southern California is overpopulated for the amount of potable water available but still the importance of snowpack for some areas of population in terms of water is sobering.
     
  8. Occams Barber

    Occams Barber Newbie Supporter

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    Thanks Carlv. There's a lot of focus on glaciers but annual snowpack alone is a significant water supply.

    I found a NOAA article, from Dec 2018, which talks about climate related problems and the Sierra snowpack.

    This paragraph (from the article) summarises the issues:

    Across the Sierra Nevada, increases in average temperature bring greater risks of both below-average snowpack and snowpack shifts upslope. The graph in the lower right compares those risks for a temperature increase of 1°C (1.8°F), 1.5°C (2.7°F), and 2.0°C (3.6°F) over the entire mountain range. With 1.5°C of winter warming, the odds that a given year's snowpack will be below average increase by more than 30 percent. With 2.0°C of winter warming, the odds of below-average snowpack rise by more than 40%. These sorts of changes in Sierra snowpack will likely have profound—and expensive—impacts on everything from salmon runs, to ski resorts, to regional fire risk.
    OB
     
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