Himalayan glaciers experienced significant mass loss during later phases of little ice age

Mayank Shekhar, Anshuman Bhardwaj, Shaktiman Singh, Parminder S. Ranhotra, Amalava Bhattacharyya, Ashish K. Pal, Ipsita Roy, F. Javier Martín-Torres, Mariá Paz Zorzano

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Abstract

To date, there is a gap in the data about the state and mass balance of glaciers in the climate-sensitive subtropical regions during the Little Ice Age (LIA). Here, based on an unprecedented tree-ring sampling coverage, we present the longest reconstructed mass balance record for the Western Himalayan glaciers, dating to 1615. Our results confirm that the later phase of LIA was substantially briefer and weaker in the Himalaya than in the Arctic and subarctic regions. Furthermore, analysis of the time-series of the mass-balance against other time-series shows clear evidence of the existence of (i) a significant glacial decay and a significantly weaker magnitude of glaciation during the latter half of the LIA; (ii) a weak regional mass balance dependence on either the El Ninõ-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) or the Total Solar Irradiance (TSI) taken in isolation, but a considerable combined influence of both of them during the LIA; and (iii) in addition to anthropogenic climate change, the strong effect from the increased yearly concurrence of extremely high TSI with El Ninõ over the past five decades, resulting in severe glacial mass loss. The generated mass balance time-series can serve as a source of reliable reconstructed data to the scientific community.

Original languageEnglish
Article number10305
JournalScientific reports
Volume7
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2017

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Shekhar, M., Bhardwaj, A., Singh, S., Ranhotra, P. S., Bhattacharyya, A., Pal, A. K., Roy, I., Martín-Torres, F. J., & Zorzano, M. P. (2017). Himalayan glaciers experienced significant mass loss during later phases of little ice age. Scientific reports, 7(1), [10305]. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-09212-2