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Asian glaciers buck trend, put on weight

April 16, 2012 at 5:11 PM   |   Comments

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GRENOBLE, France, April 16 (UPI) -- Some mountain glaciers in Asia are bucking a trend of shrinkage caused by global warming and are actually getting thicker, French researchers say.

Satellite data indicates glaciers in part of the Karakoram range, to the west of the Himalayan region, are experiencing increases in their mass, scientists from the National Center for Scientific Research and the University of Grenoble said.

Between 1999 and 2008 the mass of the glaciers in this 2,168-square-miles area of the Karakoram increased slightly, the researchers said, although with wide variations between individual glaciers.

A possible explanation is not clear, scientists said, although climate change can cause extra precipitation in cold regions which, if they are cold enough, can add mass to existing glaciers.

"Right now we believe that it could be due to a very specific regional climate over Karakoram because there have been meteorological measurements showing increased winter precipitation; but that's just a guess at this stage," lead researcher Julie Gardelle told BBC News.

"We don't really know the reason."

The increase stands in stark contrast to the rest of the Himalayas-Hindu Kush region, where an analysis of 10 regularly studied glaciers found the rate of ice loss had doubled since the 1980s.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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