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

Geographical Week

Get the best of Geographical delivered straight to your inbox every Friday.

LATEST HEADLINES

Subscribe to Geographical!

Adventure Canada

EDUCATION PARTNERS

Aberystwyth University University of Greenwich The University of Winchester

TRAVEL PARTNERS

Ponant

Silversea

Travel the Unknown

DOSSIERS

Like longer reads? Try our in-depth dossiers that provide a comprehensive view of each topic

  • National Clean Air Day
    For National Clean Air Day, Geographical brings together stories about air pollution and the kind of solutions needed to tackle it ...
    The Air That We Breathe
    Cities the world over are struggling to improve air quality as scandals surrounding diesel car emissions come to light and the huge health costs of po...
    Hung out to dry
    Wetlands are vital storehouses of biodiversity and important bulwarks against the effects of climate change, while also providing livelihoods for mill...
    When the wind blows
    With 1,200 wind turbines due to be built in the UK this year, Mark Rowe explores the continuing controversy surrounding wind power and discusses the e...
    Mexico City: boom town
    Twenty years ago, Mexico City was considered the ultimate urban disaster. But, recent political and economic reforms have transformed it into a hub of...

MORE DOSSIERS

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...

Mountains

In this extract from his new book, Tides, mountain climber…

Cities

New data from the World Health Organization reveals that nine…

Water

In the wake of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan,…

Mapping

Benjamin Hennig maps out the global production and distribution levels…

Water

Millions of Americans are living in areas at high-risk of…

Mapping

New interactive maps combine precipitation and temperature to show climate…

Cities

Public transport in India could be on the verge of…

Water

To retrace the route of the fur voyageurs on the waterways…

Cities

IPCC Cities and Climate Change Conference: Alberta host dresses non-renewable…

Water

Increased carbon dioxide is affecting freshwater ecosystems

Forests

The latest laser scanning technology reveals new insights into the…

Forests

Deforestation is having an unexpected effect in the Amazon: fewer…

Forests

The iconic Douglas fir tree, familiar to fans of the…

Forests

Rocky Mountain forests are not regenerating after wildfires

Cities

Cape Town is edging closer to ‘Day Zero’, the long-feared…

Water

Ongoing restoration projects are breathing new life into Florida’s Everglades

Cities

Despite protests, an experimental pedestrianisation system is proving to be…

Mapping

National Archives map historian, Rose Mitchell, highlights some of the…

Water

An expedition into the Jordanian desert is helping teachers and…

Mountains

Trivia fans take note, Mount Hope in the British Antarctic…