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'No proof of Himalayan ice melting due to climate change'
TNN 10 November 2009, 02:19am IST
Source The Times Of India
"NEW DELHI: The environment ministry on Monday published a discussion paper stating that there was no conclusive evidence to prove that the
Himalayan glaciers are melting due to climate change.
The report, released by Union environment minister Jairam Ramesh, however, made it clear that the views expressed by the author, Dr V K Raina, retired deputy director-general of the Geological Survey of India, are not that of the Union government and that it is meant to "stimulate discussion".
While releasing the report, Ramesh said that the discussion paper presents evidence that most glaciers are in the process of retreat while some Himalayan glaciers, such as the Siachen glacier, are actually advancing and some others are retreating at a rate lower than before, such as the Gangotri glacier.
The minister clarified that there was no doubt that the `health' of the glaciers was very poor and the situation was reaching alarming proportions but warned that there was little evidence to connect it to climate change or black carbon.
Dr Raina said, "None of our glaciers under monitoring are recording abnormal retreat."
He did qualify saying that there was not enough data to present any conclusive evidence to show linkages at the moment with long term data existing only for 20-30 glaciers and there was only one automated weather station in the entire Himalayas to record climatic data.
The report states, "The Himalayan glaciers, although shrinking in volume and constantly showing a retreating front, have not in any way exhibited, especially in recent years, an abnormal annual retreat, of the order that some glaciers in Alaska and Greenland are reported."
Raina pointed out that the Arctic glaciers were at sea surface level while Himalayan glaciers existed at a much greater height than most others. He explained that the dynamics of how climate change would impact them remained different.
The melting of Himalayan glaciers is popularly seen as a major threat to the northern Indian hydrological cycle and to the region's economy in case of global warming continuing unabated.
But, Ramesh said that the discussion paper "challenged conventional wisdom".
The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, headed by Dr R K Pachauri, in its last report had, in contrast, warned that "glaciers in Himalayas are receding faster than in any other part of the world" and that at current rate of depletion, "the likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high" if the global temperatures rise unabated.
Dr Pachauri, when contacted by TOI for a response to the discussion paper, said, "I'd like to find out the secret source of this divine intervention... I don't understand the logic of this... I am puzzled where this magical science has come from... This is something indefensible."
When asked if the discussion paper could be taken into consideration in the on-going round of scientific review by IPCC, he said, "IPCC studies only peer-review science. Let someone publish the data in a decent credible publication. I am sure IPCC would then accept it, otherwise we can just throw it into the dustbin."
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