Sunday, 26 February 2012

Glaciers in Nepal - a Nepalling State of Affairs laments the fate of glaciers in Nepal "Himalayan Sherpas lament climate change devastation", "one hour ago", meaning on 26th Feb 2012:
GATI, Nepal: Climate change is altering the face of the Himalayas, devastating farming communities and making Mount Everest increasingly treacherous to climb, some of the world’s top mountaineers have warned.
Apa Sherpa, the Nepali climber who has conquered Mount Everest a record 21 times, said he was disturbed by the lack of snow on the world’s highest peak, caused by rising temperatures.
"In 1989 when I first climbed Everest there was a lot of snow and ice but now most of it has just become bare rock. That, as a result, is causing more rockfalls which is a danger to the climbers", he told AFP.
"Also, climbing is becoming more difficult because when you are on a mountain you can wear crampons but it’s very dangerous and very slippery to walk on bare rock with crampons"” Speaking after completing the first third of a gruelling 1,700-kilometre (1,100-mile) trek across the Himalayas, Apa Sherpa would not rule out the possibility of Everest being unclimbable in the coming years.
The "lack of snow", courtesy of Google Maps. I know it's a winter scene, but if Nature and (un-)Scientific American can show "melting glaciers" in summer, what's sauce for the goose....

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"’s very dangerous and very slippery to walk on bare rock with crampons"” Then don't do it. I'll stop there because I don't want to mock someone who's clearly very passionate about his country and his fellow citizens (yes he does - Ed.), no matter what (Ed.) might say. However, note the wording at the beginning "some of the world’s top mountaineers have warned". Presumably they inadvertently used the word "some", because we hear from just one climber, and no others are quoted. Nit-picking again, though nit-picking is often valid criticism, as you'll hear.

The article continues
Research published by the Kathmandu-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) last year showed Nepal’s glaciers had shrunk by 21 per cent over 30 years.
A three-year research project led by ICIMOD showed 10 glaciers surveyed in the region all are shrinking, with a marked acceleration in loss of ice between 2002 and 2005.
Scientists say the effects of climate change could be devastating, as the Himalayas provide food and energy for 1.3 billion people living in downstream river basins.
Environmental campaigners refer to the mountain range as the "third pole" and say the melting glaciers are the biggest potential contributors to rising sea levels after the North and South Poles.
By "Nepal's glaciers" they surely must mean all or most or even a significant proportion of Nepal's glaciers? No, they mean the ten glaciers surveyed over how long? The "30 years" over which they shrank by 21%? - no, between 2002 and 2005. Just four years, a period which ended 7 years ago. Soon after the mention of that period, the writer begins to lose the plot -"the Himalayas provide food and energy for 1.3 billion people living in downstream river basins". It's a strange and alien environment to site wheat fields and coal-fired power stations, but I think I know what he means. Nit-picking is fun.

Then we get to the real "message" in the missive - "Environmental campaigners refer to the mountain range as the "third pole" and say the melting glaciers are the biggest potential contributors to rising sea levels after the North and South Poles", potential maybe, actual  not quite. We now know that Himalayan glaciers have lost very little ice in recent decades. Glaciologists, or at least those who study the lower ends of very few glaciers and publish alarming reports about overall ice loss, which they know nothing whatsoever about, need a lesson in objectivity.

This bunch confidently assert that "Nepal's glaciers", by which they must mean all glaciers in Nepal, have "shrunk by 21% over 30 years". Whether they mean in mass, thickness or length I don't know, though I'm trying to find out.. This they base on a survey of 10 glaciers out of..... how many? Just this once (honest) I'll rely on a figure provided by the WWF "Monitoring the glaciers of the Himalayas", which is 3,252 glaciers, and at least gives the impression that someone's taken the trouble to count them, broadly agreeing with other figures I've seen. Have a look at that WWF article if you want, but it contains enough material for another blog post here, so beware. If you know much at all about the subject, be sure to put down any hot drinks, and don't read it with a mouthful of food. What we have then, is the equivalent of physicians examining just 17 of the 5,544 concert-goers in a full Royal Albert Hall, and assessing the health of the entire 5,544 from their data. This is modern science at its best. It's not investigation, it's extrapolation, and that's what's wrong with modern "climate science" (or at least the IPCC variety) in general.

Apa Sherpa (he must have a lot of relatives in the Sherpa family) made the news pages last year warning that Everest was becoming too dangerous and difficult even for experienced climbers. He's probably a nice sincere chap, but timing isn't his strong point - in the same reports we read that a 13 year-old boy had made it to the top with his father.
An estimated 200 people reached the summit on Saturday, the busiest day, when 13-year-old American Jordan Romero became the youngest person ever to climb Everest, tackling the mountain from the quieter north side.
The summer climbing season is a brief two weeks. Why so short?
Around 250 people scaled Mount Everest from the south side this year, Nepal's mountaineering department said Tuesday, as heavy snow brought the brief climbing season to an early close.
They said the weather on Everest had deteriorated since snow began falling on Sunday, ending a climbing season that has set a record for the youngest person ever to reach the top as well as the highest number of summits.
Don't reporters see that some claims are likely exaggerated or biased? Above base camp, air temperature drops by about 1°C for each 150 metres increase in height, meaning that five-or-so hundred metres higher it's never above zero. It's not "climate change" or "global warming" melting the snow and ice, it's very likely (>97% - I can use probabilities too)  it's a bit more sunshine , and possibly, just possibly, erosion cased by those 200 people who reached the summit. Even more (including sherpas) support these expeditions, and tramp the lower tracks.

What "climate change devastation" is being caused in Nepal? After all, the glaciers are disappearing before their very eyes in a shimmering heat-haze.
"Right from the beginning we saw the effects of climate change on tea plantations in Ilam district,” he said. "These areas would not normally get frost and it is destroying their entire crop. These are cash crops that employ thousands of people, even on one farm."
 Frost - you couldn't make it up.

No apologies for the Nepalling pun in the post title though. It's my blog, after all.

Updated 1st March with some details of the 2010 news article(s), and a little more of my devastating and incisive critique. It's St. David's Day, so iechyd da to all those who know what it means.

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