(CNN) — A heavily glaciated region of the Himalayas is bucking the trend of global ice loss and showing small signs of increasing in mass, according to a new study.
Data examining six regions in the Karakoram mountains in the western Himalayas, which contains 7,700 square miles (nearly 20,000 square kilometers) of glaciers, revealed more than half of them are either stable or have been advancing in recent years.
French scientists observed the size and shape of ice covering 2,168 square miles (5,615 square kilometers) in central Karakoram using satellite data from the Shuttle Radar Topographic Mission (STRM) and the Satellite Pour l’Observation de la Terre (SPOT5).
Between 1999 and 2008 the glaciers gained, on average, the water equivalent of around 11 centimeters a year, according to the study published in the journal Nature Geoscience.
Lead author, Julie Gardelle from University of Grenoble in Francesays explanations for this increase are still not clear, but might lie in the localized climate.
“Studies have already reported an increase in winter precipitation and a lowering of summer temperatures since the 1960s in low-altitude valleys of Karakoram,” Gardelle said.
The study confirms an anomaly in the region which wasput forward in 2005 and contrasts with the experience of the central and eastern Himalayas where most glaciers are shrinking, say researchers.
That story is one which is being repeated globally, say the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS) and has been since the end of the Little Ice Age around 150 years ago.
WGMS estimate that since 1980 the cumulative average thickness loss of monitored glaciers across the world has been 11.3 meters.
Glacier data in the wider Himalayan region hit the headlines in 2010 when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had to apologize for a “poorly substantiated” study they cited which claimed allHimalayan glaciers could melt by 2035.
Kemp told CNN at the time that the data, which found its way into their Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), was flawed, saying there were “simply no observations available to make these sorts of statements.”
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