There is a long history of Al Gore being right on many issues and being ridiculed for it. Such things are known as AlGorithms and are recited at night by good little girls and boys in the right households. Bob Somerby has been howling almost daily about this, visit his incomparable archives and read some of his many posts about the quintessential AlGorithm, the INTERNET story.
Previously we had discussed how a falsification in Byrnes review of "An Inconvenient Truth" provided the heavy artillery she used to attack Gore. Rather free form discussion broke out here, at Stoat and Deltoid. Big City Liberal has used the opportunity to post a pin up picture of Richard Tol who is the most serious of Byrnes' defenders.
Here we report on one of Kristen Byrnes' many AlGorithms.
Next, Al gets right to business showing some of the worlds receding glaciers. According to the national Snow and Ice Data Center, most glaciers around the world are receding. But when you look at scientific studies on individual glaciers you begin to understand that temperature is not always the cause and that all of the glaciers that Al mentions have been retreating for over 100 years.
There is then a paragraph about Kilimanjaro and one about the Grinnell Glacier. Kilimanjaro I leave to Ray Pierrehumbert who explains why Ms. Byrnes really should have RTFRs she provides before opining. But in both cases and in the case discussed below, a major part of the refutation is that CO2 mixing ratios and temperatures did not start increasing 100 years ago. The graphs in Eli's previous post show that CO2 concentrations started rising about 150 years ago, accelerating in the past 50 and one can say roughly the same about global surface temperature anomalies (yes we know that aerosols arrested the warming btw ~1940-70). Ms. Byrnes continues
Himalayas - Glaciers have been found to be in a state of general retreat since 1850 (Mayewski & Jeschke 1979). In this section he also claims that 40% of the worlds population gets half of their water from streams and rivers that are fed by glaciers. This is an easily confused claim. Rivers that are fed by the Himalayas get most of their run-off from the spring snowmelt. They also have many dams that ensure that water will be available during dry months.Gore wrote in "An InconvenientTruth" (The tech squad finds it easier to quote from a book)
The Himalayan Glaciers on the Tibetan Plateau have been among the most affected by global warming. The Himalayas contain 100 times as much ice as the Alps and provide more than half of the drinking water for 40% of the world's population -- through seven Asian river systems that all originate on the same plateau.The seven rivers are the Indus, Ganges, Brahmaputra, Salween, Mekong, Yangtze and Yellow. Geographers can argue about where the plateau starts and ends, how many people use the river water, what percentage comes from melt, and other details, but we read in the IPCC WG II Summary for Policymakers says:
Within the next half-century, that 40% of the world's people may well face a very serious drinking water shortage, unless the world acts boldly and quickly to mitigate global warming.
Glacier melt in the Himalayas is projected to increase flooding, and rock avalanches from destabilised slopes, and to affect water resources within the next two to three decades. This will be followed by decreased river flows as the glaciers recede. * N [10.2, 10.4]The full report is not yet available (there is a story there, as the meeting that lead to the SPM for WG II was particularly contentious with the US and China demanding many changes to soften the impact.). From a draft of the Technical Summary we read that scientists are highly confident that global warming will make water shortages a major issue for Asia in the next 100 years especially because of rapid melting of glaciers.
The Himalayan glaciers will melt even more rapidly then they currently are (which is fast enough, see below) because of increasing temperatures. At first there will be increased flooding and avalanches which will interfere with water supplies as the glacial water floods down onto the plains. Once the glaciers are all or mostly gone the river flow will seriously decrease.
McClatchy News Service reports the IPCC has said that
"Glaciers in the Himalayas are receding faster than in any other part of the world and, if the present rate continues, the likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high if the Earth keeps getting warmer at the current rate," the report said. The total area of glaciers in the Himalayas likely will shrink from 193,051 square miles to 38,600 square miles by that year, the report said.in Geography News from January of this year
Glaciers of the Himalaya Mountain Range are an enormous reservoir of fresh water and their meltwater is an important resource for much of India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, China and Burma. A team of Indian scientists lead by Anil V. Kulkarni of the Indian Space Research Organization, studied surface area coverage for nearly 500 glaciers in the Chenab, Parabati, and Baspa basins using satellite data collected between 1962 and 2001.
They documented that most of these glaciers have retreated significantly. In 1962 a total of 2077 square kilometers was covered by glaciers and in 2001 that area was reduced to 1628 square kilometers. This represents a deglaciation of over twenty percent over a forty year period.
They also learned the the number of glaciers actually increased in this area. The increase in count was caused by fragmentation. Climate change was blamed for the decrease in sustainability for these Himalayan glaciers.The paper itself concludes:
The observations made in this investigation suggest that small glaciers and ice fields are significantly affected due to global warming from the middle of the last century. In addition, larger glaciers are being fragmented into smaller glaciers. In future, if additional global warming takes place, the processes of glacial fragmentation and retreat will increase, which will have a profound effect on availability of water resources in the Himalayan region.The threat is so large that India and China, sort of the Michael Mann and Steve McIntyre of countries, have agreed to cooperatively map the glacier melt on the Tibetan Plateau, an area both of them consider to be of the highest strategic importance, often close to outsiders for security reasons, have fought wars over and frequently use to engage in small and larger armed battles.
UPDATE: Finally, you should go over to Open Mind by Tamino and read his post on glacier retreat. Tamino has taken the time to RTFR (the Glacier Balance Bulletin for the World Glacier Monitoring Service) and provides (among many other things and important links) a graphic summary showing that anyone who tells you glaciers are not retreating, is on balance, someone not to buy a bridge connecting Manhattan and Brooklyn from.
*The map at the top is from www.globalwarmingart.com.