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Indian Scientists Call UN Glacier Retreat Claim Unscientific

Aug. 28, 2009 (EIRNS)—Disputing the forecast made by the United Nations body studying global warming, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which warned in early May that the glaciers in the world's highest mountain range could vanish within three decades, V.K. Raina, a leading glaciologist and former Additional Director-General of Geological Survey of India (GSI), claimed recently that the issue of glacial retreat is being sensationalized by a few individuals. Raina, who has been associated with the research and data collection in over 25 glaciers in India and abroad, debunked the theory that the Gangotri glacier is retreating alarmingly. He maintains that the glaciers are undergoing natural changes which are witnessed periodically.

The issue of carrying out a joint research on the Himalayan glaciers that store more ice than anywhere on Earth except for the polar regions and Alaska, and the steady flow of water from these glaciers that fills seven of the mightiest rivers of Asia, is now under discussion between India and China. Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh told newspersons on Aug. 28 that a comprehensive agreement for joint research on Himalayan glaciers will be drawn up after another round of talks when a Chinese delegation of environment scientists and officials visit New Delhi in October. Both Indian and Chinese rivers and underground aquifers depend heavily on the snow melt during the dry summer season. Glacial runoff also is the source of the headwaters for the Indus River in Pakistan, the Brahmaputra that flows through Bangladesh, the Mekong that descends through Southeast Asia, the Irrawaddy in Myanmar, and the Yellow and Yangtze rivers of China.

Raina's views were echoed by Dr. R.K. Ganjoo, Director, Regional Centre for Field Operations and Research on Himalayan Glaciology, who is supervising study of glaciers in northern Kashmirs Ladakh region, including one in the Siachen area. He also maintains that nothing abnormal has been found in any of the Himalayan glaciers studied so far by him. He points out that Indian glaciers are at 11,500-13,000 feet above the sea level, whereas those in the Alps are at much lower levels. Certainly, the conditions under which the glaciers in Alaska are retreating, do not prevail in the Indian sub-continent, he explained.