01/20/2010, 00.00
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UN panel now says Himalayan glaciers may not disappear by 2035

In 2007, the UN-accredited group of experts said that Himalayan glaciers would melt by 2035. The claim was followed by two years of discussion, but now some experts question their conclusion, saying that that kind of melting is “physically impossible”. The Indian government criticises “alarmist” claim.
New Delhi (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Himalayan glaciers are melting, but will not disappear by 2035 as predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an intergovernmental body accredited with the United Nations, a claim that was reiterated as late as last month’s Copenhagen conference.

Georg Kaser, from the University of Innsbruck in Austria, had warned that the 2035 figure was wrong, “so wrong that it is not even worth discussing”.

Four leading glaciologists had prepared a letter for publication in December arguing that a complete melt by 2035 was physically impossible.

“If you think about the thicknesses of the ice—200-300m thicknesses, in some cases up to 400m thick—and if you're losing ice at the rate of a metre a year, or let's say double it to two metres a year, you're not going to get rid of 200m of ice in a quarter of a century,” said Jeffrey Kargel, from the University of Arizona

Some are now arguing that the panel accepted at face value assertions by Syed Iqbal Hasnain, in article published in 1999 in the New Scientist.

The IPCC’s practices were also challenged in a series of stories based on e-mails stolen from computer servers of the University of East Anglia in England and posted worldwide last year that showed climate researchers discussed keeping some scientific papers out of the IPCC report.

The panel’s report formed the basis for two years of global climate-treaty talks that led to the Copenhagen conference.

IPCC vice-chairman Jean-Pascal van Ypersele said that 2035 was an error and would be reviewed. However, it did not change the broad picture of man-made climate change. In his view, “one mistake in a 3,000-page report” cannot “damage the credibility of the overall report”.

In 2007, the IPCC shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore, former US Vice President-turned environmental activist. Its chairman, Rajendra Pachauri, insists that the evidence for global warming, including melting glaciers, is “unequivocal” and rising human greenhouse- gas emissions were “very likely” the main cause.

However, the report’s claims have led to a heated debate and raised concerns, including political, because of the high regard the panel is held and the seriousness of its conclusions.

In India, Environment Minister called on the IPCC to explain "how it reached the 2035 figure, which created such a scare”.

In a press conference yesterday in New Delhi, the minister said, “Glaciers are a very serious issue. However, “to derive the conclusion that glaciers are melting rapidly and will disappear is alarmist and not necessarily based on facts.”

Himalayan glaciers are the source of the big rivers that supply water to millions of people in India and China.

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