We are toast anyway

What was that about melting again? From the tundra to the Himalayas:

Over the last several years, on Mt. Everest, veteran alpine guides have reported seeing an increasing number of human skeletons and frozen corpses. One guide named Gelje Sherpa told the Times that when he first summited, in 2008, he found three bodies, and during a recent season he found six.

Seems to be a sign that the glaciers are melting.

A new study, published on Wednesday in the journal Science Advances, added a significant layer of proof, finding that, over the past forty years, the average rate that the Himalayas have lost ice has doubled. While the paper’s findings have dire consequences for the millions of people who live just below Himalayan glaciers, they are also vitally important in aiding officials and engineers tasked with planning for the region’s entire population of 1.6 billion people, all of whom rely on the rivers that these glaciers feed.

You know, little rivers like the Ganges and the Brahmaputra and the Yellow and the Indus…

Scientists were hoping that it would be more complicated than warmer temperatures—>melting glaciers, but the evidence is indicating that it’s not.

Based on many other studies, the suspicion already had been that temperature is the main climate driver melting glaciers. “Of course, if it gets warmer, ice melts, we knew that,” Schaefer said. But he would have been happy if the study showed that melting is much more variable, and more strongly impacted by other factors. “We were obviously hoping that for the environment, and the livelihood of society, that it would be a more local pattern,” he said. “Instead, this means that just everywhere these glaciers will follow the temperature curve.” Schaefer added, “Of all the possibilities, that’s the worst result.”

So good-bye glaciers hello mass famines.

Schaefer told me that people often ask him when the Himalayas are going to be ice-free. “It’s a little bit like asking, When are the Antarctic or Greenland ice sheets gonna be gone?” he said. (Greenland’s summer heat is already weeks ahead of average, breaking the record for such extensive melting of its ice sheet at an early date.) “They are interesting questions, but they are not that relevant for us. If the ice sheets are gone, we are toast anyway. We will be gone way before.”

And it appears that there is no way the ice sheets won’t be gone.

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