An assessment of regional climate trends and changes to the Mt. Jaya glaciers of Irian Jaya
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Over the past century, glaciers throughout the tropics have predominately retreated. These small glaciers, which respond quickly to climate changes, are becoming increasingly important in understanding glacier-climate interactions. The glaciers on Mt. Jaya in Irian Jaya, Indonesia are the last remaining tropical glaciers in the Western Pacific region. Although considerable research exists investigating the climatic factors most affecting tropical glacier mass balance, extensive research on the Mt. Jaya glaciers has been lacking since the early 1970s. Using IKONOS satellite images, the ice extents of the Mt. Jaya glaciers in 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005 were mapped. The mapping indicates that the recessional trend which began in the mid-19th century has continued. Between 1972 (Allison, 1974; Allison and Peterson, 1976) and 2000, the glaciers lost approximately 67.6% of their area, representing a reduction in surface ice area from 7.2 km2 to 2.35 km2. From 2000 to 2005, the glaciers lost an additional 0.54 km2, representing approximately 24% of the 2000 area. Rates of ice loss, calculated from area measurements for the Mt. Jaya glaciers in 1942, 1972, 1987, and 2005, indicate that ice loss on Mt. Jaya has increased during each subsequent period. Preliminary modeling, using 600 hPa atmospheric temperature, specific humidity, wind speeds, surface precipitation, and radiation values, acquired from the NCEP Reanalysis dataset, indicates that the only climate variable having a statistically-significant change with a magnitude great enough to strongly affect ice loss on these glaciers was an increase in the mean monthly atmospheric temperature of 0.24ÃÂ°C between 1972 and 1987. However, accelerated ice loss occurring from 1988-2005 without large observed changes in the weather variables indicates that a more complex explanation may be required. Small, though statistically-significant changes were found in regional precipitation, with precipitation decreasing from 1972-1987 and increasing from 1988-2005. While, individually, these changes were not of sufficient magnitude to have greatly affected ice loss on these glaciers, increased precipitation along with a rising freezing level may have resulted in a greater proportion of the glacier surface being affected by rain. This may account for the increased recession rate observed in the latter period.
Kincaid, Joni L. (2003). An assessment of regional climate trends and changes to the Mt. Jaya glaciers of Irian Jaya. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from