Importance Of Glaciers As A Source Of Fresh Water Exaggerated – Austrian Scientists

Not long ago, the IPCC got one on the knuckles for grossly exaggerating Himalayan glacial ice melt, preposterously claiming the glaciers there would be gone by 2035. Now it comes to light that the IPCC has also grossly exaggerated the importance of glaciers as a source of fresh water supply for populations.

This is what the German language online Die Presse writes here. (Read here in English).

If climate change does come, like some crystal balls are forecasting, then the glaciers melting and diminishing would reduce or eliminate melt water. The IPCC claims that it could impact perhaps 50 to 60 percent of the world’s population, 500 million people in the Ganges region in India alone!

But these numbers are quite exaggerated, claims Austrian experts Prof. Georg Kaser and Dr. Ben Marzeion of the Institute of Geography of the University of Innsbruck in Austria:

In the last few years numbers have been named that do not pass a closer examination. It is an exaggeration when it is claimed that the melting of glaciers endangers the water supply of 2 billion people.

The professors of geology and their colleagues have examined data like precipitation, temperature and the glaciers, taken together throughout the year.

Just imagine you find yourself at the Ganges delta, it’s summertime, and a lot of melt water is coming down. But during the warm months, there are also the monsoons. And when there is a lot of land area on which the monsoons fall between you and the glaciers, glacier water plays a minor role.”

Die Presse writes that this is the case everywhere for the region south of the Himalayas. This means that the 500 million people in the region of the Ganges would therefore hardly be effected.

Dr. Ben Marzeion says the story is different for the region of the Aral Sea because the region is dry and depends more on glacier melt water. Here 10 million of the 40 million people would be significantly impacted.

In Europe, on the other hand, 81 million people live along the along Danube River.  An absence of glacier melt water would significantly impact only 310,000 people. Marzeion says:

That’s still a lot of people who would be effected, particularly in higher elevations near the glacier. But it is a relatively small number.”

The results of the study have been published in the renowned scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

12 responses to “Importance Of Glaciers As A Source Of Fresh Water Exaggerated – Austrian Scientists”

  1. Ed Caryl

    I doubt that many people get there water directly from glacier melt. Glacier melt feeds streams, but so does snow melt and rain. Much of the water from all three sources feeds aquifers and those feed springs and wells. It is only in a few situations where the absence of a glacier may mean stream flow failure in a dry late summer or fall. This is another example of IPCC “calamitology”.

  2. R. de Haan

    Open Door: Is the Western Climate Establishment Corrupt?

  3. Edward.

    In the most (highly) unlikely event that, all the worlds glaciers were to melt, this would not affect the stream flow one bit.

    Snow falls on mountains, hardens, forms ice – accumulations of year upon year of more snow, ice, gradient, gravity and pressure………glacier formed, summer melt feeds down stream…………………… glacier melts? – so what? – rain still falls.

    In summer, the snow melts, just the same.


    Water falls on slopes, it runs off, percolates down to stream bed and thus, flows down to the plain and on to the sea, the hydrological cycle is unfazed surely?

    The big problem is if the water bearing, rain laden clouds fail to develop, then there is a problem.

    I have posited before, in areas like the Himalayas, there have been slow monsoons, a change in orographic precipitation levels – this should be studied (more) in depth – studying and concentrating on – melting glaciers is a waste of time, really, a non sequitur – but alas it generates funding.

    I suppose, if one wants to study glaciation retreat and link it to AGW, then grant money will ‘flow’ if one wants to study precipitation changes in the Himalayas and it’s effects upon glacial retreat – nobody wants to know.

    I guess, AGW and the farcical hyping of a non existent ‘monster’ has made me a tad cynical.

  4. R. de Haan

    What makes me cynical is the fact that our world leaders are still pushing this hoax and we are paying for this crap. More than we know.

  5. Steve Case

    In any watershed, the water downstream comes from the precipitation that falls as rain and snow, and the IPCC tells us that in a warmer world there will be MORE precipitation. All a glacier does, if there is one, is delay the water from reaching the river for a few decades.

  6. K. Jackson

    A stable glacier (one that is neither melting nor expanding) contributes no net water downstream: this is exactly the same amount of water contributed when no glacier is present. Seasonal water comes from seasonal snow melt and rain. Global warming will initially increase downstream water a little as the glacier melts, then, all else being equal, the water availability will fall back to what it was when the climate was stable as the glacier disappears. Global cooling, if it causes glaciers to grow, will reduce downstream water by the amount being stored in the glacier. This whole “glaciers melting” hype is utter nonsense as part of any long-term evaluation of the effects of global warming!

  7. John Douglas Swallow

    It is preposterous to suggest that glacier melt water is of as much importance as some of these dishonest charlatans want to make the uninformed believe. One only needs to locate the glaciers at the head of either the Blue Nile or the White Nile which is the world’s longest river, to know what a weak argument they put forth. How much of the water reaching the Atlantic at the mouth of the world’s largest river, The Amazon, comes from glaciers? I don’t have the verification but I would imagine that there are many major rivers on earth that don’t have any glaciers at their source and one more reason to totally discount this nonsense is that during the winter months in the Himalayan mountains when there is no glacier melt, do these river dry up?

  8. John McLean

    I dealt with much of this subject in ” ‘Glaciergate’ highlights IPCC flaws”, which is available online at

    The IPCC report says “The Gangetic basin alone is home to 500 million
    people, about 10% of the total human population in the region” [note region”!]. Five hundred million is 10% of five billion but the combined population of India and Bangladesh is about 1.4 billion although not all of India is in the Gangetic basin.

    My document shows the very serious flaws in the IPCC’s report writing process –
    1. – draft text is not thoroughly checked, nor the sources that are cited
    2. – reviewers are supposed to comment on the “content” and “balance” but there’s not much value in that when IPCC Lead authors are under no obligation to change their text.

    The text of IPCC reports is written by individuals acting alone and as if they were writing miniature essays. These essays vary in the amount of opinion and bias, but no attempt is made to correct this and the IPCC reports are merely a collection of these essays.

    Ultimately an expression like “It is very likely that human activity has had a significant influence on temperature since the mid twentieth century” is merely one individual’s opinion. While reviewers might disagree with this, what evidence can they produce that would justify a change? And wouldn’t that be pointless anyway because the author can ignore it.

  9. Global Warming Hoax Weekly Round-Up, Nov 11th 2010 « The Daily Bayonet

    […] Uh oh, on the back of Himalaya-gate we have the new scandal of ice-cold-refreshing-glacier-freshwater-gate. […]

  10. Fred

    Glacier melt! Those guys seem to be worried about tomorrow’s water supply. What about today? Over a billion people go through each day without clean drinking water and toilets. Use the melt water to give them drink TODAY. Tomorrow will take care of is own evil. Those that look to be so concerned about tomorrow have already spent tomorrow’s money and don’t seem to be willing to share tomorrow’s goods with those in need today. But they do have fat pocketbooks.

  11. Dr. Doug L. Hoffman

    It seems that NASA’s GRACE satellite measurements indicate the glaciers of central Asia are not melting at anywhere near the previously claimed rate. For an update on glacial melting, particularly in the Himalayas, read my latest blog post, “NASA Satellite Debunks Melting Glacier Myth.

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