Global warming is yet to affect Glacier in Karakorum Range

Peer Muhammad
A fresh research by four scientists have given a further endorsement to the theory of Karakoram anomaly, believing that the glaciers’ mass are increasing with decreasing in melting in the Hindukush-Karakoram Himalaya region, with a negative effect of almost 7 percent on the water inflowsin River Indus at Tarbela Dam from the glaciers in summer season. Pakistan has the largest irrigation network in the world and water inflows from these glaciers are key source of water for irrigation system in Pakistan. The key points of this latest research are that the changes in precipitation, humidity, cloud, river flow, and wind suggest that this region is becoming moisture surplus and energy deficient and changes in energy, mass and momentum fluxes are facilitating establishment of the ‘Karakoram Anomaly’. The latest research conducted by four scientists of Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences, the University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA. These scientists include Furrukh Bashir, Xubin Zeng, Hoshin Gupta and Pieter Hazenberg. Mr. Furrukh Bashir is a scientist of Pakistan Metrological Department and doing his PhD from the University of Arizona, USA. The current work presents a detailed analysis that uses long-term meteorological observations from multiple valley floor sites in northern Pakistan, and it believed to be most accurate account of the hydro-meteorology of the region ever available. The study area is comprised of the eastern Hindukush, western Karakoram and northwestern Himalayan mountain ranges that are in the province of Gilgit-Baltistan, situated in Northern Pakistan and it used meteorological data from different valley floor sites observed over the past five decades. This dataset includes monthly mean maximum temperature and minimum temperature, and monthly accumulated precipitation, along with monthly mean synoptic weather observations of dry bulb temperature, wind speed, cloud cover fraction, surface pressure and relative humidity. These research asserts that data, most of which have not previously been reported or analyzed, enable a quantitative assessment of the impacts of net radiation, wind speed, humidity, cloud cover, atmospheric pressure and potential evapotranspiration on the magnitudes and directions of change in energy, mass and momentum fluxes that are facilitating the establishment of the Karakoram anomaly. For instance, the in-situ meteorological observations indicate an increasing trend in regional humidity for all seasons of the year with highest rates in the summer and lowest in the winter, and the summer is also marked by a positive trend in cloud cover. Increased cloudiness affects the snow and glaciated ice in several different ways among which decrease in melting is prominent. The research claims that the analysis of the long-term meteorological dataset presented in the research shows a clear signal that the HKH watersheds have been moisture surplus and energy deficient in recent years. Nourishment of the glaciers in both winter and summer has been increasing lately. Overall, these results clearly support the existence of the “Karakoram Anomaly”, says the research. In a conversation with this writer, Furrukh Bashir further elaborate his findings , saying that said that though glaciers melting is part of seasonality, and it will never cease in existing climatic conditions. However, glacier melting is slowed down with more precipitation nourishing glaciers’ top in winter and summer, hence the mass balance of the glaciers in highly elevated catchments is positive. To a question, he said “Yes, decrease in melting will affect water resources’. However, Furrukh said it does not mean that glaciers have stopped melting at lower elevations or at their terminus, saying “melting process is slowed down due to increase in humidity and cloudiness and decrease in wind speed”. Furrukh further comments that it does not mean that global warming is over, rather it is an interesting case where global warming interacting with high elevated mountainsis behaving differently. The research findings note that the previous explanations of the Karakoram anomaly have been based mainly on analyses of long-term temperature, precipitation, and river flow record. The current work presents a detailed analysis that uses long-term meteorological observations from multiple valley floor sites in northern Pakistan.These variables such as dry bulb temperature, near-surface wind speed, cloud cover fraction, surface pressure, relative humidity, vapor pressure, net radiation, potential evapotranspiration (ETp) and Climate Moisture Index (CMI), which have not been analyzed before, and enable a novel assessment of the glacial response to regional scale atmospheric changes. The research further reveals that in summer, the 7% increase in precipitation is accompanied by a 6.3% decrease in discharge, indicating that the regional hydrological mass balance is actually positive during the summer, in spite of the fact that this is when most of the annual melting takes place. These summertime decreases in runoff can be related to cooling