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Glacier meltdown scale arouses debate
Updated: 2009-10-13 15:01

KATHMANDU: The melting of the glaciers in the Himalayan belt may be a hot topic linked to the ongoing debate on climate change.

The total area of the glaciers would shrink from 500,000 to 100, 000 sq km by 2035, local daily The Himalayan Times on Tuesday quoted a report from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) as stating.

"However, some experts claimed that the existing data is inadequate to conclusively predict that glaciers would cease to exist in the near future," reported The Himalayan Times.

Richard Armstrong, professor of Colorado University, USA, however, has debunked this forecast. "The data is baseless since the total area of Himalayan glaciers is less than 100,000 sq km," the daily quoted Armstrong.

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The International Center for Integrated Mountain Development ( ICIMOD) based in Nepali capital Kathmandu, too, has supported Armstrong.

"I've no idea about the source of the WWF's data. As per our study, the total area of the Himalayan glaciers is around 100,000 sq km," said Pradeep Mool, glacier expert, ICIMOD.

Armstrong has pointed out that several articles on the melting of glaciers in popular scientific journals were misleading.

"The global map on the fourth assessment report of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) showed that the Himalayas as a blank spot due to lack of adequate and authentic data on the glaciers," said Andreas Schild, Director General, ICIMOD.

"The available data on the melting of the Himalayan glaciers reflects a sweeping generalization, which is largely incorrect," explained Armstrong. There is a lack of data on all in the Himalayan region, especially in the higher altitudes.

Studies reveal that the altitude above 5,400 meters has less than 0 degree Celsius throughout the year. Hence, the meltdown of glaciers in this altitude is virtually impossible. The existing data has only been collated from the altitude below 5,400 meters, which are prone to meltdown.