Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Indian glaciologist fires back at climate sceptics

Keya Acharya in IPS has a long, carefully weighed summary of a complex subject that the denialists are doing their utmost to confuse: "It is a fact that global warming is happening. If the Arctic Sea ice is melting, how can the Himalayan glaciers not be melting?" glaciologist Syed Iqbal Hasnain asked indignantly. Amid the brouhaha over last week’s retraction by a United Nations body of its 2007 report that the Himalayan glaciers would disappear by 2035, global warming sceptics quickly seized on the error, noting the rash of media reports on the issue, which they believed bolstered their position.

But Hasnain, who found himself at the centre of the Himalayan meltdown controversy, said it is "ridiculous" to assume that the glaciers are not melting. The scientist was reported as having given the year 2035 for the disappearance of Himalayan glaciers due to global warming in a 1999 interview with a British publication, ‘New Scientist’… In the IPCC report, the United Nations body said the phenomenon of climate change would melt most Himalayan glaciers by 2035, which was taken from the ‘New Scientist’ article published in 1999, according to the British broadsheet ‘Sunday Times’ in its Jan. 17 issue. The article was based on a telephone interview with Hasnain by the journal’s writer, Fred Pearce.

…Hasnain, who denied ever having given the 2035 time frame to the writer, said Pearce has gone on record in the same ‘Sunday Times’ article, saying a 1999 report prepared by the scientist "does not mention 2035 as a date by which any Himalayan glacier will melt."

…Hasnain gave IPS a synthesis of recent scientific studies on the Himalayan glaciers. Titled ‘Synthesis of Recent Studies on Himalayan Glaciers,’ his report sums up scientific research done in the last decade, proving that the Himalayan glaciers are receding.

Glaciers in eastern and central Himalayas are especially sensitive to present atmospheric warming due to their summer snow-accumulation system, said the glaciologist’s report, citing a 1984 study by Yasunari Ageta and K. Higuchi.

…Hasnain said vested interests are trying to denigrate scientists who are "diligently doing their best to research the issue." Collecting and collating scientific evidence on glacial retreat in the Himalayas has been both physically near impossible and technically difficult. According to the Kathmandu-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) there are still no systematic measurements of glacial mass balance in the Himalayan region."…

A valley in Ladakh, shot by Dalibor, Wikimedia Commons, nder the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License

1 comment:

Duncan said...

Sad, if that's the best he can do.

His recent research is from 1984? Seriously?

I mean, of course the glaciers in the Himalayas are melting overall, but hiw "defense" was weaksauce. Ae we sure he's actually a glaciologist?

The Indian government commissioned studies of those glaciers over the past couple years. Didn't those studies say the rate of melting had slowed down dramatically since the 1970's?

I guess that would probably include slowing down since 1984...

Doesn't make a lot of sense that they would be melting slower now, though. There's certainly a lot more black carbon being deposited on them from India than there was 30 years ago.