HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
DURBAN: According to the researchers, the first comprehensive research on snow cover in the Hindukush Himalayan region released here today claims that there are 54,252 glaciers in the Himalayas covering 60,054 sq km. Till now there was only an estimate of the snow covered area and it was said to be 110,000 sq km.
"The study used a standardised methodology based on analysis of satellite images to prepare first ever comprehensive inventory of glaciers in the 10 major river basins in the Himalayas. It took about three years to come up with the results," said Samjwal Bajracharya, glacier expert at International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, a regional inter-governmental agency that conducts research on glaciers in eight countries of Hindukush Himalayan region, including Nepal.
The report was released by the Chairman of Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change — the United Nations climate change scientific body — Rajendra Pachauri, and Nepal's Environment Minister Hem Raj Tater at a programme to mark Mountain Day here on the sidelines of climate change meeting. Negotiators from 195 countries have gathered here to discuss climate change.
The study conducted used decadal (2001-2010) data on snow products recorded by moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer, which presents an account of snow mapping and monitoring initiatives at different levels from regional to global. The report claims it gives comprehensive baseline information for Himalayan glaciers that are one of the most data deficient areas when talked about the effect of climate change in the region.
"Longer-term data are needed in order to understand the relation between snow cover and climate change but the ten-year snow cover study has shown regional variations," added Bajracharya.
According to the study, the maximum annual average snow cover area was in 2005 and the minimum was in 2010.
"There hadn't been any mapping of the glaciers in the past. The previously stated figures were all estimates. Now we can say the actual snow covered area in the region," claimed Bajracharya who has been involved in glacier study for more than a decade.
The IPCC had mentioned in its controversial report published in 2007 that the glaciers in the Himalayas would disappear by 2035. It was later admitted as a mistake.
However, Pachauri said that it could undoubtedly be said that the glaciers were melting at a fast rate and the mistake is only the year that was mentioned in the report.