Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Himalaya glacier melt rate 'extreme'

Comparative photos of Mount Everest 'confirm ice loss'

BBC News: Photos taken by a mountaineer on Everest from the same spot where similar pictures were taken in 1921 have revealed an 'alarming' ice loss. The Asia Society (AS) arranged for the pictures to be taken in exactly the same place where British climber George Mallory took photos in 1921. 'The photographs reveal a startling truth: the ice of the Himalaya is disappearing,' an AS statement said. 'They reveal an alarming loss in ice mass over an 89-year period.'...

The AS says that the findings are 'vitally important' because the Himalaya is home to the world's largest sub-polar ice reserves. The melt waters of these high altitude glaciers supply crucial seasonal flows to the Ganges, Brahmaputra, Salween, Irrawaddy, Mekong, Yangtze and Yellow rivers, which hundreds of millions of people downstream depend on for their livelihoods,' the statement said...

Mr [David] Breashears retraced the steps of the 1921 British Mount Everest Reconnaissance Expedition Team, using photos taken then by surveyor and photographer Maj Edward Wheeler and amateur photographer George Mallory, who later died attempting to reach the Everest summit in 1924.

'The melt rate in this region of central and eastern Himalaya is extreme and is devastating,' Mr Breashears told an AS meeting... He has not only followed in the footsteps of Mallory but also those of Italian photographer Vittorio Sella, whose work spanned the 19th and 20th Centuries. The result is a then-and-now series of photographs from Tibet, Nepal and near K2 in Pakistan -- all of which show glaciers in retreat.
Image source here.