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Himalayan Glaciers Affected Way Before Humans Set Foot


Contamination, caused by human activities, was found in the Central Himalayan region hundreds of years before a human ever reached the place. The study published in ‘PNAS’, included that by-products of burning coal from Europe made it to the Dasuopu glacier, about 10300 km from Britain’s capital city of London, the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. Paolo Gabrielli, from Ohio State University, said that industrialization led to a lot of carbon emission in the mid of the 20th century.

Paolo Gabrielli
Paolo Gabrielli

“And so the use of coal combustion also started to cause emission that we think were transported by winds up to the Himalayas,” he added. The research team, which was part of a bigger international team, travelled to Dasuopu in 1997 to drill ice cores from the glacier. Dasuopu is 7200 m above sea level and is the highest altitude site in the world where scientists have gathered climate records from ice.

Himalayan Map

The group analyzed one core taken from Dasuopu in 1997 for 23 trace metals. The ice evaluated was formed between 1499-1992. They found abnormal levels of several toxic metals, including Cadmium, Chromium, Nickel, and Zinc, in the ice starting around 1780.

The ice core operates like a timeline and indicated new ice formation in layers over time.

Greenland's Icesheet Passed Point of No Return

The disappearance is irreversible, said the researchers of Ohio State University. The annual snowfall can not restore the ice. The study reviewed the data from the past 4 decades of more than 200 glaciers. The complete melting of these ice sheets will increase the sea level by 23 feet by 3000. Greenland's ice is the largest contributor to global sea-level rise.

Source: TOI

Image Courtesy: Ortles Project EarthSky

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