Alpine Glacier Melt-Out at Third Pole, Amplified Warming at High Elevations, Feedback Mechanisms

Alpine Glacier Melt-Out at the Third Pole // Feb 12, 2019

Since 1970 about 15% of the glacial ice has melted out at the “Third Pole”; the extensive region with high elevations in Asia that encompasses the Himalayan Mountains and the Tibetan Plateau. Warming is being amplified by a little-known feedback called Elevation Dependent Warming (EDW). A conservative estimate is that we will lose one-third, one-half or two-thirds of the ice with average global temperature change of 1.5 C, 2.0 C, and 4.0 C, respectively, threatening the water supply (and food supply) for up to 2 billion people.

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Amplification of Warming at High Elevations // Feb 13, 2019

In most (but not all) high-elevation regions, like the Third Pole (Tibetan Plateau; Himalayan Mountains), Antarctica, Greenland, Rockies, Alps, etc. the higher up you go, the greater the rate of warming. This is not commonly known, but the rate of temperature rise is about 2x, 3x or even greater, at higher altitudes than at lower altitudes, in a phenomena called Elevation Dependent Warming (EDW); clearly analogous to greater warming at higher latitudes. This is bad, especially for Greenland, Antarctica, as well as for the 2 billion people using Third Pole runoff.

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Feedback Mechanisms Amplifying Warming in Alpine Regions // Feb 13, 2019

In the previous video I described how most alpine regions are warming two to three times faster at high elevations versus low elevations (and global average warming rates). Now I chat about feedbacks and processes that cause this, and how they vary with seasons and different regions. Albedo feedback, similar to that causing polar amplification, is one effect; others include upward creep of snow and tree lines, water vapour increases, cloud changes, aerosol loading changes, and both short-wave and long-wave radiation effects at altitude.
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About paulbeckwith

Well known climate science educator; Part-time Geography professor (climatology, oceanography, environmental issues), University of Ottawa. Physicist. Engineer. Master's Degree in Science in Laser Optics, Bachelors of Engineering, in Engineering Physics. Won Association of Professional Engineers of Ontario gold medal. Also interested in investment and start-ups in climate solutions, renewable energy and energy efficiency. Avid chess player, and likes restoring old homes. Married with children.
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1 Response to Alpine Glacier Melt-Out at Third Pole, Amplified Warming at High Elevations, Feedback Mechanisms

  1. Randall says:

    Third pole? Interesting.
    I have just finished listening to dane wiggington and Jeff rence,
    On Jeff’s show. Dane wiggington states 50 gigaton of methane has probably already been released in polar region???? Paul, I know methane increase has been reported on, but I find nothing on amounts that are released,
    How many gigitons are being released in a given year? Do you think 50 gigitons have been released already ?


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