The Karakoram Anomaly
In this time and age of Global warming and changes in the overall global weather patterns one of the most established fact is the shrinking of the Polar Ice Caps and the reduction of Glaciers in the Glacial non Polar Regions of the World.
We have seen the the alarming consequences closer to home with the shrinking of Glaciers in the Himalayan Regions especially in the Central Himalayas. But there is one Region which defies this Global trend and the Glaciers have actually remained the same or have actually increased. This Region is the extreme Western Part of the Himalayas and mainly in the Karakorams.
This my friends is called the Karakoram Anomaly and it has baffled leading scientists for some time now. How the Karakorams buck the trend of Glacial reduction is still to be answered in all its nuances. However some reasons have been attributed to be the cause of this Anomaly.
Firstly unlike the main Himalayan Range which gets a bulk of its precipitation (in the form of Rain in the lower reaches and in the form of Snow in the higher reaches) in the Summer season thanks to the Monsoon the Karakoram remains largely dry during the season. The Himalayas block the Monsoon and at the same time block the heat from the Indian Plains to get to the Karakorams. The Karakorams on the other hand get most of their precipitation in the Winters and most of it in the form of Snow with the clouds coming in from Central Asia and the Western disturbance.
Also a few degrees change in temperature would not really affect the snowfall in the Karakoram Range in the Winters however the same change would have drastic effects for the Himalayan Glaciers in the Summers. As the Snow would be less and Rain would be more. And people who have lived in snowy Regions would understand how Rain cuts through Snow and Ice.
Another theory purported is that the Glaciers of the Karakorams have a large amount of debris built up over the ages. A thick layer of debri which turns the top Ice of the Glacier into a dark colour attracts more heat and accelerates Glacial melt. However if the debris are thicker they actually act as insulators and preserve the Ice underneath.
Yet another Theory being put out there is the fact that the lowest areas of the Karakorams are now cultivated at a larger scale then at any time in the past. This insinuates the use of a larger amount of water for cultivation and this leads to more moisture in the atmosphere and hence more precipitation in the area creating a different microclimate in the area.
Personally I see the first theory making the most sense though the other two also make sense. And I assume it's a mixture of all the above stated factors.
Hopefully one day Scientists will find out the exact reason for the Karakoram Anomaly.
Till then we can probably take some solace in the fact that the Glaciers in at least one Region are not shrinking.
A pic of the Drang Drung Glacier of the Great Himalayan Range. Pic from April 2018. On a flight from Delhi to Leh