Glaciers on the Tibetan Plateau, sometimes called Earth's "third pole", hold the largest ice mass outside the polar regions. These glaciers act as a water storage tower for South and East Asia, releasing melt water in warm months to the Indus, Ganges, Brahmaputra and other river systems, providing fresh water to more than a billion people. In the dry season glacial melt provides half or more of the water in many rivers.
Tibetan glaciers have been melting at an accelerating rate over the past decade. Glacier changes depend on local weather, especially snowfall, so glacier retreat or advance fluctuates with time and place. Thus it is inevitable that some Tibetan glaciers advance over short periods, as has been reported. But overall, Tibetan glaciers are retreating at an alarming rate.