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Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
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of engineering and science
Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Before And After: Tracking Climate Change Through Shifting Glaciers In The Himalayas

photo
Main Rongbuk Glacier. (Courtesy of Royal Geographical Society, 1921)The Main Rongbuk Glacier, 2007. (Courtesy of GlacierWorks)Kyetrak Glacier in 1921. (Courtesy of Royal Geographical Society)Kyetrak Glacier in 2009. (Courtesy of GlacierWorks)The Jannu Glacier in 1899. (Courtesy of Fondazione Sella O.n.l.u.s)Jannu Glacier in 2009. (David Breashears, GlacierWorks)The West Rongbuk Glacier in 1921. (Courtesy of Royal Geographical Society.)West Rongbuk Glacier in 2008. (Courtesy of GlacierWorks)

Glaciers in the Himalayas have shrunk by as much as a fifth in the last three decades, according to the Nepal-based international Centre for Integrated Mountain Development. This is thought to be the most comprehensive assessment of Himalayan ice melting to date.

David Breashears says the rapidly melting glaciers in the Himalayas are a huge problem because 40 percent of the world’s population relies on rivers that are fed by the glaciers. Breashears is trying to draw attention to the melting glaciers through photography. He started with the photographs from historic mountaineers, who captured images of the glaciers, some more than a hundred years ago. Breashears then retraced the mountaineers’ footsteps to photograph the same glaciers from the same vantage point. He says that it’s personally heartbreaking to see the glaciers change. But he hopes his photos will catch the attention of citizens and governments.

Guest:

  • David Breashears, mountaineer, filmmaker, and executive director and founder of the non-profit Glacierworks

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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