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Glacier changes in the Himalaya

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The limited knowledge about glaciers in the Himalayas until recently have become clear in a most dramatic way due to an erroneous statement in the IPCC AR5 about the likely glacier disappearance. Apart from the wrong information about future development of glaciers in this region, also the number and total area covered by glaciers was largely unknown.
This situation has significantly improved since then as new glacier inventories became available. The regional-scale knowledge gap in glacier volume changes could in the meantime be largely closed for glaciers in the Himalaya with a study by Glaciers_cci team members (Kääb et al., 2012; Bolch et al., 2012) and further studies that clarified what is going on (e.g. Gardelle et al., 2012, 2013; Bolch et al., 2011; Cogley, 2011).
The importance of generating a baseline data set (glacier inventory) for proper change assessment, trend analysis and modelling in all glacierized regions of this planet is stressed in all relevant GCOS documents (e.g. GCOS, 2006) that form the base of the climate change initiative. With the Randolph Glacier Inventory a first large step towards this goal was achieved, but lots of quality improvement still has to be done, not only in the Himalaya but also in surrounding mountain ranges like in Tibet, the Tian-Shan, or the Pamir. This option should thus contribute to an improved assessment of the overall glacier cover in the region and its changes through time using satellite data and the methods developed in the baseline proposal.

References
Bolch, T., T. Pieczonka, and D. I. Benn (2011), Multi-decadal mass loss of glaciers in the Everest area (Nepal, Himalaya) derived from stereo imagery, Cryosphere 5, 349–358.
Bolch, T., A. Kulkarni, A. Kaab, C. Huggel, F. Paul, J. G. Cogley, H. Frey, J. S. Kargel, K. Fujita, M. Scheel, S. Bajracharya, and M. Stoffel (2012), The state and fate of Himalayan glaciers, Science 336(6079), 310–314.
Cogley, J. G. (2011), Present and future states of Himalaya and Karakoram glaciers, Ann. Glaciol. 52(59), 69–73.
Gardelle, J., E. Berthier, and Y. Arnaud (2012), Slight gain of mass by Karakoram glaciers in the early 21st century, Nature Geosci. 5, 322–325.
Gardelle, J., E. Berthier, Y. Arnaud, and A. Kääb (2013), Region-wide glacier mass balances over the Pamir-Karakoram-Himalaya during 1999-2011, The Cryosphere 7, 1263–1286.
GCOS (2006), Systematic observation requirements for satellite-based products for climate., GCOS Report 107, WMO/TD No. 1338, pp. 103.
Kääb, A., E. Berthier, C. Nuth, J. Gardelle, and Y. Arnaud (2012), Contrasting patterns of early twenty-first-century glacier mass change in the Himalayas, Nature 488(7412), 495–498.
Scherler, D., B. Bookhagen, and M. R. Strecker (2011), Spatially variable response of Himalayan glaciers to climate change affected by debris cover, Nature Geosci. 4, 156–159.