Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

Glacial Growth: cracking the ‘Karakoram anomaly’

Glacial Growth: cracking the ‘Karakoram anomaly’ Pakawat Thongcharoen
10 Oct
2017
Among the Himalaya region, which along with most of the rest of the planet is steadily warming, there lies an aberration which is allowing glaciers in the area to remain stable, even grow in size, rather than melt and shrink

First observed in 2005, the so-called ‘Karakoram anomaly’ has seen temperatures cooling during both the winter and summer months along the Karakoram mountain range which crosses through India, Pakistan, and China and includes K2, the world’s second-highest mountain. This is resulting in the steady accumulation of snow, and, consequently, the growth of some glaciers.

The cause of the anomaly appears to be a vortex of trapped, cold air that circulates through the Karakoram mountains, preventing them from overheating. Combined with the South Asian monsoon, this large-scale circulation system counteracts the summer warming of the rest of the Himalayas, causing the Karakoram range to cool while other areas get hotter.

‘This vortex provides an important temperature control,’ explains Dr Nathan Forsythe, research associate at Newcastle University, and lead author of a new study trying to understand the mechanics behind the Karakoram anomaly. ‘It is therefore important to look at how it has changed and influenced temperature over the last century so we can better understand how a change in the system might affect future climate.’

This phenomenon has also led to stormier weather conditions over the region, while the reduced glacial melt is likely to have affected the flow of several streams, which could be highly significant for the prosperity of people living in lower altitude river valleys. ‘This is of huge importance in terms of food security,’ continues Forsythe, ‘because of the large populations that rely on water resources from snow and ice melt from the mountainous catchments to grow their irrigated crops in the Indus Plains of the Sindh and Punjab states, and provinces of Pakistan and India.’

This was published in the October 2017 edition of Geographical magazine.

Related items

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in PLACES...

Mapping

A revolution in digital mapmaking is underway and the implications…

Cities

India has pledged $120billion to make its cities ‘smart’. But…

Cities

Buildings made from wood are becoming increasingly common in cities…

Forests

The lead author of a scientific study, which claimed that…

Cities

A team of researchers in Australia are urging urban planners…

Water

An artificial intelligence tool can predict where conflicts related to…

Water

Hundreds of historic landfill sites are at risk from erosion…

Cities

London has officially become the first of a new kind…

Mountains

A new model of the monsoon system, which dispenses with the Himalaya Mountains,…

Places

In the second of his features on the world’s geopolitical…

Water

The discovery a long ‘tongue’ of ice beneath a glacial…

Mapping

Benjamin Hennig explains two cartograms which demonstrate the global water…

Places

Get on your bike with this collection of stories to…

Water

The Brown Bank a haven for marine life in the…

Forests

The first payment under the Redd+ scheme to conserve tropical…

Places

In the first of a series on geopolitical curiosities and…

Cities

A socioecological model is predicting the areas of major US…

Mapping

Following the collapse of the upstream tailings dam in Brumadinho,…

Mapping

The domestication of animals for food, secondary products, labour and…

Cities

Strap in for a newer, greener experience in virtual city…