Karakoram Anomaly: Why Some Glaciers Are Growing

Western disturbances are helping sustain and expand himalayan glaciers, giving rise to a phenomenon called ‘Karakoram Anomaly’.


While global warming is affecting glaciers in the Himalayan range badly, in Karakoram glaciers are stable and even showing growth. This is giving people a slight hope, also a sense of relief to the people of India as Himalayan basins are a prime source of water for the vast north Indian population. The study conducted by the American Meteorological Society suggests that the phenomenon is a result of Western Disturbances(WD). Scientists have also measured the effects of WDs on precipitation, regions with positive WD effects have 27% increased snowfall while non-WD areas reported a 17% decline in precipitation.

“WDs are the primary feeder of snowfall for the region during winters. Our study suggests they constitute about 65% of the total seasonal snowfall volume and about 53% of the total seasonal precipitation, easily making them the most important source of moisture. The precipitation intensity of WDs impacting Karakoram has increased by around 10% in the last two decades, which only enhances their role in sustaining the regional anomaly." said Aaquib Javed, a PhD student of Dr Pankaj Kumar, Associate Professor at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) Bhopal.