Glaciers in the Himalayas have been melting for decades. Due to man-made climate change, many small glaciers in and around the mountain range have already disappeared completely. A new report shows that in the last 20 years, melting has picked up speed.
Researchers compared photographs of the Himalayas taken in the 21st century to those taken in the latter part of the 20th. Some of those older photos were only recently declassified US spy satellite pictures. Using that comparison, scientists at Columbia University and the University of Utah saw that glaciers in the region have been losing a vertical foot and a half of ice every year, twice as fast as the already rapid pace they were melting at previously.
Since the Himalayas are such a large area, there are multiple contributing factors. One was less precipitation, which means less ice on the ground. But a big factor was the increasing consumption of fossil fuels in Asia, sending soot into the sky, where it falls to the ground and absorbs sunlight, warming the ground. Joshua Maurer, lead author on the study, said: “It looks just like what we would expect if warming were the dominant driver of ice loss."