Researchers say that the snow line of the world's tallest mountain has retreated by nearly 600 feet in the last 50 years. It's the latest data available in the controversial discussion about the melting of Himalayan glaciers.
At this week’s Meeting of the Americas, held in Mexico by the American Geophysical Union (AGU), University of Milan researchers reported that Mount Everest is warmer than it used to be: The snow cloak covering the world’s tallest mountain has shrunk by 13 percent in the last 50 years. The team used satellite imagery and statistical analysis to determine that most of the glaciers in the area surrounding Everest are retreating. Not surprisingly, the smallest ones are disappearing fastest, their surface area having decreased by 43 percent.
What’s the Big Idea?
Over a billion people in the region depend on water from the Himalayas during the dry season, yet the connection between glacial melt and human-generated climate change has long been disputed. Research differs on the rate of the melt, with one report suggesting that it was happening at one-tenth the amount calculated by other reports. At the AGU meeting, the research team confirmed that their findings didn’t establish an explicit link between the melt and climate change. They also noted that since 1992, area temperatures have been rising by one degree per year, and precipitation has declined by almost four inches during the pre-monsoon and winter months.