Researchers have taken a significant leap toward solving the mystery of why few pockets of glaciers in the Karakoram Range resist glacial melt due to global warming, defying the trend of glaciers losing mass across the globe, with the Himalayas being no exception.
They have attributed this Karakoram Anomaly phenomenon to the recent revival of western disturbances (WDs).
Himalayan glaciers are paramount in the Indian context, especially for the millions of dwellers living downstream who rely on these perennial rivers for their daily water needs. They are fast receding under the impacts of global warming, and stifling stress on water resources is inevitable in the coming decades. In contrast, the glaciers of central Karakoram have surprisingly remained unchanged or slightly increased in the last few decades. This phenomenon has been puzzling glaciologists and providing climate deniers with a rare straw to clutch at.
Dr. Pankaj Kumar, Associate Professor at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Bhopal, found this peculiar because the behaviour seems to be confined to a very small region, with only Kunlun ranges being another example of showing similar trends in the whole of Himalaya.
A recent study conducted under his supervision has postulated a new theory to explain this defiance of the impacts of global warming in certain pockets as opposed to other glaciers of the region.
In a paper published in the American Meteorological Society’s Journal of Climate, his group claimed that the recent revival of western disturbance has been instrumental in triggering and sustaining the Karakoram Anomaly since the advent of the 21st century. The Climate Change Programme of the Department of Science and Technology supported the study