Greenhouse Snow

By John All

When I first climbed Mt. Everest in 2010, I found a weird phenomenon I called Greenhouse Snow. Basically, we would get these snow showers that would drop several inches of snow, but the cloud layers were so thin that we could feel the glare from the sun at 6500 meters and the resulting greenhouse effect would broil us even as the snow piled up. Since then, I have seen the frequency of phenomenon grow in mountains around the world as greenhouse gas energy dynamics wrestle with the hydrologic cycle. I’ve experienced it the past week as we worked near Mt. Everest amidst snowfalls not seen in 30 years according to local Sherpa. These Greenhouse Snowstorms sweep in during the afternoon and have been dumping large amounts of snow - I fell off of the packed trail near a 4600 meter pass and I’m 6’5” and was almost neck deep in the fresh snow. But I was also just wearing shorts and a t-shirt during the storm due to the heat as climate change makes a mockery of old weather patterns and the knowledge that our elders have shared through time immemorial about how the weather should work in a local area.

We’re heading up to Everest Base Camp over the next week and will continue studying how climate change is impacting this area...

Greenhouse snow swirling around us at only 4400 meters   

Greenhouse snow swirling around us at only 4400 meters

 

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A porter struggling up a trail not designed for snow

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Ram Kaji resting for a moment as we leave the Hinku valley and drop back into the Khumbu