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Central Asian glaciers resist warming

Dec. 19, 2011 at 7:12 PM   |   Comments

ASTANA, Kazakhstan, Dec. 19 (UPI) -- Glaciers in Central Asia will melt far less from the effects of climate change than will those in other mountain ranges, researchers say.

This means the people who depend on those glaciers for water will be shielded from the effects of global warming for several decades at least, scientists said.

The mountains in and around the Himalayas are so high, unlike in the Andes, the Alps or the Rockies, that even in summer temperatures remain below freezing and most of the glaciers don't melt away at all, Richard Armstrong, a geographer at Colorado University's National Snow and Ice Centre, told Inter Press Service.

"It doesn't make much difference if it gets a little warmer up there because it's still far below zero," he said.

In a study of a part of what is called High Asia, researchers found 96 percent of the water that flows down the mountains of Nepal into nine local river basins comes from snow and rain, and only 4 percent from summer glacier melt.

Of that 4 percent only a small proportion comes from the melting away of the end points of the glaciers due to global warming, Armstrong said.

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