NASA Scientists Believe That Dust on Himalayan Mountain Tops Accelerate the Melting Process

NordForsk: TFI - "Chages of the Greenland Cryosphere" and "SVALI final conference". Ilulissat Greenland June 2-5 2015

Himalayas are the pride and glory of North India. They are the protectors of the country from the cold harsh winds from the North and keep the rest of the country protected from invasion as well. They are not just protectors, but glorious and exquisite site to watch as white snow glitters on top of them as sun carefully christens the tips of the mountain range.

Over the last few days, it has been noticed that the glittering white snow that made the ranges so divine is fading because of the enormous amount of mud that is being deposited there. They are turning muddy and this color of dark grey is going to make the snow melt faster as more solar radiations are absorbed by dirty snow than clean white snow, according to the experts.

Since last few years, a strange phenomenon is being witnessed by the mountain ranges. Non-native red soil is blowing due to strong winds towards the Himalayas from the plains. This red soil settles on the snow after rainfall. Due to this, the snow melts faster but the temperature in the surrounding is also increased because it absorbs heat.

Dr. Tom Painter, a NASA scientist, who is currently studying the ornate effects of impurities that absorb light in snow, says that the clean snow reflects all the heat radiation slowing down the melting process. In his study, he also mentioned that the dust that accumulates on top of snow accelerates the process of melting significantly.

A lot of dust blows into the snow areas and most of that dust come from desert areas, whether the snowy areas are the Hindu Kush or the Himalayas. The humans can’t dictate the desert locations, but the activity they do influence the quantity of dust that comes towards the mountains.

Dr. Painter and his team examined all the impurities’ effects on snow for nearly a decade in a lot of locations using satellite data, aircraft mounted instruments, energy balance towers and ground-based measurements. The first dirt on snow satellite images of Himalayas was discovered in the early 1990s.

It has been noticed in the Kullu and Lahaul regions of Himachal that have many glaciers and high mountains that the snow has dust on it in April and due to this dust the snow melts fast up to June. A lot of floods are experienced till September from June due to this fast melting of snow.

Many of the old glaciers of Himalayas are covered with dust, making the snow underneath them melt due to which the thickness of snow decreases. This raises the level of streams and rivers causing floods and water damage.

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