Aerosol thawing out Himalayas: Report

KATHMANDU: A new study has revealed that black carbon aerosols are one of the major causative agents for the rapid melting of snow in the Himalayas.

A journal of the European Geosciences Union states that Himalayan ice core records indicate a significant amount of black carbon deposition in the Everest region for 1951 to 2000, with a strong increase since 1990.

The black carbon aerosols are released from an incomplete combustion of coal and fuel. “This research has given a new insight into the agents enhancing the melting of the snow in the Himalayas.

The argument needs to be to taken into consideration by the Himalayan nations,” said Ngamindra Dahal, a climate change expert.

The research shows the snow cover in the Himalayas decreased by nearly 0.9 per cent between 1990 and 2000, due to the black carbon aerosols.

The finding was concluded by a team of scientists from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory USA, Columbia University/NASA USA, Indian Institute for Tropical Meteorology Pune, Climate Analysis Section USA and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory USA after a long research.

The study explains that an increase in aerosols increases cloud droplet number concentration and reduces cloud droplet sizes, inhibiting precipitation.

The report, mainly focused in India, has expressed worry as the rapidly growing energy demand could enhance the problem of deposition of the black carbon in the Himalayas.

For the largest South-Asian country, power-generation capacity has to increase six fold by 2030, much of which to be met by the world’s fourth biggest coal reserve in India.

“Amid controversies over the cause of glacial melt in the Himalayas, the study comes as a supporting document to justify that the melting is rapid and unusual,” added Dahal.

“Although we do not preclude the influence of large-scale circulation or green house gases on the spatial patterns of precipitation or snow cover changes, our results indicate that aerosols and the enhanced indian fossil and bio-fuel black carbon aerosols in particular may be responsible for some of the observed patterns and trends in snowcover and precipitation,” the report conclusively states.