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NASA too got it wrong on glaciers

One scientific body — the National Aeronautics and Space Administration — was worse than the IPCC in predicting the death of Himalayan glaciers. More IPCC errors

delhi Updated: Jan 28, 2010 02:24 IST
Chetan Chauhan

One scientific body — the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) — was worse than the IPCC in predicting the death of Himalayan glaciers.

NASA, on its website till last week, told the world that most Himalayan glaciers would disappear by 2030. The website now states that glaciers around the world are in poor health.

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had retracted its prediction that most Himalayan glaciers would melt by 2035.

“Mountain glaciers and snow cover have declined on average in all hemispheres, and may disappear altogether in certain regions of the world such as Himalayas, by 2030,” the NASA webpage had said.

From where NASA got the 2030 date is surprising.

The premier US space agency said its wrong assertion was from the IPCC’s fourth assessment report and summary for policymakers.

HT did not find any reference to 2030 with regard to Himalayan glaciers in the policy document of the IPCC released in 2007. “No date of melting of Himalayan glaciers was mentioned,” said former environment secretary Pradipto Ghosh.
The policy document had referred to the year 2030 with regard to sea level rise and its impact but not about Himalayan glaciers. “By 2030, beach erosion and inundation of shoreline properties is likely to be a real problem...,” it said about India.

NASA was quick to correct its mistake. “Glaciers are retreating almost everywhere around the world — the Alps, Himalayas, Andes, Alaska and Africa,” said the NASA website this week with reference to Himalayan glaciers.
Instead of the IPCC, NASA referred to the findings of the World Glacier Monitoring Service, a body of glaciologists.