Ruth Mitchell

'Glaciers growing not melting' - Newcastle University

Some Himalayan glaciers could be growing not melting as a result of global warming, according to new research by a North East team. Researchers from Newcastle University looked at temperature trends in the Upper Indus Basin over the last century. They found a recent increase in winter temperatures and a cooling of summer temperatures. These trends, combined with an increase in snow and rainfall could be causing glaciers to grow, at least in the higher mountain regions. These findings are particularly significant because temperature and rain and snow trends in the Upper Indus Basin also impact on the water availability for more than 50 million Pakistani people. The Upper Indus Basin is the mainstay of the national economy of Pakistan, which has 170,000 square kilometres of irrigated land, an area two-thirds the size of the United Kingdom.

Dr Hayley Fowler, lead author on the research paper and a senior research associate with Newcastle University’s School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, said: “Very little research of this kind has been carried out in this region and yet the findings from our work have implications for the water supplies of around 50 million people in Pakistan who are dependent on the activity of the glaciers. “Our research suggests we could be able to predict in advance the volume of summer runoff, which is very useful in planning ahead for water resources and also the output from the dams.”

The team’s findings are published in the American Meteorological Society’s Journal of Climate.

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