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Wind of (Climate) Change

Himalayan glaciers react, blow cold winds down their slopes

The Pyramid Observatory at night. The Pyramid International Laboratory/Observatory climate station has recorded hourly meteorological data for nearly three decades. The Pumori Peak (Nepal) is seen in the background. Photograph © Franco Salerno

Glaciers fight back to preserve themselves, but for how long? An international team of researchers co-led by Institute of Science and Technology Austria (ISTA) Professor Francesca Pellicciotti explains a stunning phenomenon: rising global temperatures have led Himalayan glaciers to increasingly cool the air in contact with the ice surface. The ensuing cold winds might help cool the glaciers and preserve the surrounding ecosystems. The results, found across the Himalayan range, were published in Nature Geoscience.

Is global warming causing Himalayan glaciers to melt like ice cream on a hot summer day? Previously, scientists documented an elevation-dependent warming effect: they showed that mountain tops “felt” the effect of global warming stronger and warmed up faster. [continue]