The glaciers in the Himalayas providing critical water to nearly two billion people are melting faster than ever before due to climate change, exposing communities to unpredictable and costly disasters, scientists warned Tuesday. The reasons are more than climate change.
The glaciers in the Himalayas are a source of usable water to about two billion people. Yet, they are on the verge of disappearing due to of course, climate change induced global warming.
The glaciers are melting faster than the previous decade, i.e., 2010 to 2019. The scientists from the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development in Kathmandu found that glaciers in the Hindu Kush Mountains are disappearing 65 percent faster than ever before.
The report gives the idea that climate change is taking place rapidly and some damages caused by it would be irreparable.
About two billion people who live in the places amidst the mountain ranges or in the valleys are dependent on the melting ice and snow for water. As the glaciers melt at a fast pace, the terrains weaken and the risk of disasters like floods and landslides increases.
The rise in temperature in the region of the Hindu Kush Himalayas is causing the glaciers and other forms of frozen water to melt. The region is made up of the mountain ranges of the Pamirs, the Tien Shan and the Tibetan Plateau.
Along with providing water to humans, it is also essential for the animals, agriculture, hydel power and for religious purposes.
As glacial water is present in the region, the people and the animals would be secure about it being a source for their utilisation. But now, as the glaciers melt at a fast pace, it becomes difficult for the inhabitants to live with uncertainty about it.
The extent of the loss of glaciers is tough to determine
The amount of the loss of glaciers is based on the location. In Nepal and Bhutan, situated in the Eastern Himalayas, a 3-degree Celsius warming can lead to loss of 75 percent of ice, at 4-degree Celsius it can rise to 80 percent.
It is difficult to determine the extent of glacial loss in the Hindu Kush Himalayas as there is an absence of in-depth historical documentations on its measurements.
But the depictions from spy satellite images from the 1970s and improved technology has the scientists in understanding the changes taking place in the region.
The report published recently says that water flows in 12 river basins of the region, the Ganges, Indus and Mekong is at a possibility of peaking around mid-century impacting nearly 1.6 billion people.
One can think that rise in melting would produce more water, according the water would come over on to the land as floods and not as a consistent flow. The water supply will gradually decline and make things difficult for the people who look towards the glaciers for water and melting of snow for practicing agriculture.
This is what can happen if the rivers of ice turn into rivers of water
When a large amount of water propglacial lakes or lakes in front of the glaciers are formed. These lakes are most of the times unsteady and when a dam would break, they prove to be the cause of glacial lake outburst flood, commonly known as GLOF.
Increased flow of water and a rise in the temperature, the occurrence of extreme weather events frequently.
The period of monsoon is crucial for the well-being of several people. The rains are essential for practicing agriculture and for likewise. But due to changes in the pattern of monsoon, flooding has now become frequent than ever.
Snow and glaciers melt untimely, causing floods in the season of spring. Then, in the summer, when crops require more water, the volume of water is not adequate, yielding poor quality of crops.