Himalayan glaciers in grave danger

Mindy Sparks
February 6, 2019

The report, the first large-scale and peer-reviewed study to detail the region's alarming vulnerabilities, points to a looming reality: Even if the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century is met, almost half of the glaciers in the Hindu Kush Himalayan Region will still melt due to an inevitable 2-degree Celsius spike in temperature.

Theicy peaks of the Himalayas are under threat from climate change caused by human action - and two-thirds of Himalayan glaciers could melt.

Nepal's Hindu Kush Himalayan Region, home to numerous world's highest peaks, has always been celebrated as a source of national pride.

When it comes to the effects of climate change on land, the focus is often on the Arctic and its melting ice, or on islands threatened by sea level rise.

The study looked observed the impacts of climate change on the regions including Asia through Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, China, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Myanmar. If the global rise in temperature were 2 C (3.6 F), two-thirds of Himalayan glaciers will melt, it said.

"This is the climate crisis you haven't heard of", said Philippus Wester of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), who led the report. "Global warming is on track to transform the frigid mountain peaks to bare rocks in a little less than a century".

While the government has made several appeals to the worldwide community for monetary support for its mitigation efforts, little has been done to develop regional policies and mechanisms for environmental governance to specifically address climate change in the Hindu Kush Himalayan Region.

Glaciers have thinned and retreated across most parts of the region since the 1970s. Though the mountainous region was formed around 70 million years ago, its glaciers are extremely sensitive to the changing climate. The predictable nature of glacial melt has allowed for seasonal agriculture throughout the region. Increasingly unpredictable monsoon rain patterns could also wreak havoc, Wester adds: "One-in-100 year floods are starting to happen every 50 years, he tells the Guardian".

Combined, these rising temperatures, alternate bouts of flooding and drought, and extant issues including air pollution and heat waves, portend a dark-and increasingly unavoidable-future for the Himalayan region, which Wester tells Borunda was critically under-studied prior to the release of the new report.

Further, the report warns that extremes in precipitation are increasing in the HKH region.

"Because numerous disasters and sudden changes will play out across country borders, conflict among the region's countries could easily flare up", Eklabya Sharma, deputy director general of ICIMOD said.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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