Have there been significant changes in the glacier size on Mount Everest?

Have there been significant changes in the glacier size on Mount Everest?

Significant Changes in the Glacier Size on Mount Everest: A Climate Perspective

Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak, is an epitome of grandeur and audacity. Located in the majestic Himalayas, it is the ultimate destination for adventurers and climbers. In addition to that, however, it is also a testament to our world’s varied geology and rapidly changing climate. The glaciers that adorn its slopes, significant indicators of climate change, have been undergoing substantial changes in recent times.

The Seminal Historical Perspective

To comprehend the gravity of the changes in Everest’s glaciers, it is important to understand their historical significance. Everest is home to several glaciers, the most notable being Khumbu glacier on the south side of the default Mount Everest trek and Rongbuk glacier at the north side. These glaciers have been vital sources of fresh water for the local population and delicate ecosystems for centuries.

Unmistakable Signs of Change

Recent studies, satellite images and on-site observations reveal significant shrinkage in these glaciers over the past few decades. Research by scientists from the University of Milan shows that on average, the glaciers around Mount Everest have retreated by approximately 0.6 km since the 1960s. This reduction in the size is also coupled with a decrease in depth/thickness, making it a worrisome trend.

Global Warming: The Key Culprit

Scientists affirm that the primary factor of these changes is global warming. Rising temperature, particularly in the Himalayan region, impacts the glaciers. The Himalayan region has seen an average increase of approximately 1.5 degrees Celsius in temperature over the past century, a rate higher than the global average.

Repercussions on the Local Community

The retreating glaciers are not just a loss in terms of geographical spectacle but they also pose serious threats to the surrounding ecosystems and communities. Reduced glacial runoff impacts water availability, threatening the livelihoods that depend on agriculture and livestock.

Implications for Mountaineering

With the changing glacier conditions, mountaineering adventures too have become more challenging and perilous. The reduced ice volume is causing shifts in climbing routes. The terrain is becoming more unstable, leading to greater risks of avalanches and rockfalls.

The Future of Everest Glaciers

What does the future hold for Everest’s glaciers? According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, if the present rate of global warming continues, the glaciers of Everest and the surrounding region could reduce by up to 70% by 2100. This presents a grave scenario requiring urgent actions to mitigate climate change.


The significant changes in Mount Everest’s glaciers are undeniably a stark manifestation of the evolving globe. The need of the hour is to take steps towards sustainable actions and policies to help preserve the majesty of Everest and its iconic glaciers.


1. What are the main glaciers on Mount Everest?

Mount Everest is home to several glaciers. The most famous are the Khumbu Glacier on the south side and the Rongbuk Glacier on the north side.
2. What significant changes have occurred in the size of the Mount Everest glaciers?

Research conducted by the University of Milan found that the glaciers around Mount Everest have retreated by an average of approximately 0.6 km since the 1960s.
3. What is causing these changes?

Most scientists attribute these changes to global warming, which has resulted in a significant increase in the rate of melting of glaciers.
4. How seriously does the change in the size of these glaciers affect the local community?

The local community, whose livelihoods depend on glacial runoff for water, are at risk due to the decrease in these glaciers. This water is vital for both agriculture and livestock.
5. How does the change in glacial size impact mountaineering?

Due to the decrease in glacier size, the ice has become less stable and routes have shifted, increasing the risk of avalanches and rockfalls drastically and making mountaineering more perilous.