Top: Comparison of increase in global mean temperature with mean temperature rise in Greater Himalaya zone of Western Himalaya. For global temperature, the base period is 1901-2000, and for the Himalayan region, the base period is 1990-2015. Bottom: Inter-annual variation in wintertime rainfall and snowfall for 25 years. Total precipitation was observed to increase; with decrease in snowfall and concurrent significant increase in rainfall. Graphic: Kulkarni, et al., 2018 / ResearchGate

By Neha Jain
4 May 2018

(Mongabay) – Winters in the Himalayas are getting warmer, which is increasing the risk of avalanches, two new studies suggest.

The Himalayas, a massive 2,500-kilometre (1,553-mile) arc-shaped stretch of lofty mountains straddling Pakistan, China, India, Nepal, and Bhutan, are home to the largest concentration of glaciers outside of the poles.

So far, monitoring the trends and effects of changing climate in the Himalayas has been challenging because of the high altitudes and rugged terrain. Now, with the help of mountain-top observatories, Harendra Singh Negi of the Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment (SASE) in Chandigarh, India, and his team have analysed trends in winter (November-April) temperature and precipitation in the northwestern Himalayas and Karakoram from 1991 to 2015. Over this 25-year period, winters in the northwestern Himalayas have become warmer and wetter with less snowfall, the researchers report in a study published in Current Science.

This warming has increased the risk of wet avalanches in the western Indian Himalayas, a team of Swiss researchers who are examining tree-ring growth abnormalities, report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. [more]

Warmer winters increasing risk of avalanches in the Himalayas, studies find

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