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What record warm winters mean for glaciers in the Everest region

Abhaya Raj Joshi

A new study suggests that Himalayan glaciers may be melting even during winter, when they were previously believed to remain stable.

In late winter 2020, glaciologist Sudip Thakuri visited Kalinchowk, a peak in the Himalayas around 144 km west of Kathmandu. He was surprised by what he saw. The destination, popular among Kathmandu residents seeking a sight of snow-covered mountains, wasn’t as thickly blanketed in white as in previous years. Later that winter he visited Nepal’s Makalu-Barun region, located southwest of the Everest area. Thakuri, who is dean of the faculty of science and technology at Mid-West University in Nepal, noticed a similar lack of snow. 

According to recent observations published in the journal Remote Sensing, the first, second and third warmest winter days in 72 years in Nepal’s Everest region were recorded in the winter of 2020/21.