Glaciers in the Karakoram mountain range, located at the intersection of China, India and Pakistan, have been stable despite global mass loss of mountain glaciers. The research, published online this week in Nature Geoscience, reports that the anomalous behaviour of glaciers in this particular mountain range emphasizes the local differences between glaciers, as substantial ice loss has been detected in the neighbouring Himalaya range.
Julie Gardelle and colleagues calculated the differences between two digital elevation maps, taken in 2000 and 2008. They assess about one quarter of the region of the Karakoram range, and find that glaciers gained a small amount of mass over that period. Anomalous behaviour of the Karakoram glaciers had been suspected but not confirmed with measurements, owing to the inaccessibility of the terrain.
In an accompanying News and Views article, Graham Cogley suggests that if the mass balance measurements reported in this study are representative for all the Karakoram glaciers, ice loss in this region contributed less to sea-level change in the past decade than implied by a previous estimate.