Ice loss on Mount Everest

By Richard Gravelle

Several weeks ago, I wrote that Nepalese Sherpas have claimed that the effects of climate change are making Mount Everest more dangerous and difficult to climb (Is climate change making Everest more dangerous? June 5, 2010).  It is generally accepted that Everest, like other mountains worldwide, is undergoing increased rates of ice and snow melt.  However, a recent attempt by the Asian Society (AS) to take photographs of Everest from the same spot as George Mallory did in 1921 suggest that the problem may be worse than previously thought.

Comparison of the photographs revels that the main glacier on Everest, the Rongbuk glacier, has undergone a significant loss of ice mass in the last 89 years, a trend which is unfortunately unlikely to be reversed under present conditions.

Photographer David Breashears is quoted as saying “If this isn’t evidence of the glaciers in serious decline, I don’t know what is”.  These photographs act as a stark reminder of the effects of climate change, as well as allowing us to see exactly how environmental changes have occurred over the past century.

BBC News – Comparative photos of Mount Everest ‘confirm ice loss’.  16th Jul 2010

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