New Data Explains Why Himalayan Glaciers Are Mysteriously Expanding

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Glaciers around the world are melting, retreating and even vanishing altogether. But in the mountainous Karakoram region of Asia — home to K2, the second highest peak on Earth — the glaciers aren’t melting. If anything, some are expanding.

Now, scientists have found an explanation for this mysterious glacial stability. While precipitation is increasing across the Himalayas, most of this moisture drops in the summer — except in Karakoram, where snow dominates the scene.

“It’s been a source of controversy that these glaciers haven’t been changing while other glaciers in the world have,” said study researcher Sarah Kapnick, a postdoctoral researcher in atmospheric and ocean sciences at Princeton University.

“This gives a reasoning for why you can have increased snowfall in a region and have increased glaciers or stable glaciers in a warming world,” Kapnick told Live Science.

The Karakoram is a picturesque chain of snowy peaks along the border of India, Pakistan and China. It’s part of the larger Himalaya mountain chain, which is losing its glaciers as the climate warms.

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