The glaciers of the Himalayas protect themselves from global warming

This is the analysis of a research team that made this surprising discovery

by Lorenzo Ciotti
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The glaciers of the Himalayas protect themselves from global warming
© Paula Bronstein / Staff Getty Images News

"The increase in global temperatures has led the Himalayan glaciers to increasingly cool the air in contact with the frozen surface, mitigating temperatures locally." This is what is reported by the study Local cooling and drying induced by Himalayan glaciers under global warming, published in Nature Geoscience.

The study was led by Franco Salerno of the Institute of Polar Sciences and Nicolas Guyennon of the Institute of Water Research. Rather than being more affected by global warming and melting more rapidly, the glaciers of the Himalayan peaks would be experiencing counterintuitive cooling, protecting them against global warming caused by the climate crisis.

The words of the expertes about

Guyennon explained: "While other glaciers, for example Alpine ones, are experiencing dramatic changes, the high mountain glaciers of the Third Pole in Asia are much larger, contain more ice and therefore have longer reaction times.

However, this phenomenon must not lower our guard against climate change. The cool temperatures coming off the glaciers are an emergency reaction to global warming, rather than an indicator of the long-term stability of the glaciers." Salerno added: "This is an unexpected phenomenon, so the average air temperatures have remained suspiciously stable, rather than increasing.The next step will be to find out which key features of glaciers favor this reaction.

We will need to understand which glaciers may react in this way to global warming and for how long." Francesca Pellicciotti, ISTA researcher and co-author of the research, analyzed: "Glaciers react to global warming by increasing the temperature exchange with the surface.

Global warming causes, in fact, an increase in the temperature difference between the ambient air and warm air mass above the glacier and the air mass in direct contact with the glacier surface. This leads to an increase in heat exchange at the glacier surface and a greater cooling of the surface air mass.

The fresh air masses and dry surfaces become denser and flow down slopes into valleys, cooling the lower parts of the glaciers and surrounding ecosystems, which are therefore dependent on the health of the glacier itself."