If greenhouse gas emissions are not drastically decreased, glaciers in the Hindu Kush and Himalayan mountain ranges might lose up to 80% of their volume by the end of this century due to record melting rates. The new alert is based on a report by the Kathmandu-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development. A team of international specialists has found that ice loss in the region, which is home to the famous peaks of Everest and K2, is accelerated.
With roughly 2 billion people living downstream of the 12 rivers that originate in these mountains, the paper emphasizes the increasing possibility of flash floods and avalanches in the upcoming years. These rivers, which flow through 16 Asian nations and supply fresh water to 240 million mountain residents and an additional 1.65 billion people downstream, are dependent on the ice and snow in the Hindu Kush Himalayas.
Mountain communities are in great danger from climate change despite making little contribution to global warming, according to Amina Maharjan, one of the report’s authors and an expert on migration. The inadequacy of the existing adaptation initiatives raises questions about these communities’ capacity to survive without more assistance. Previous assessments have repeatedly emphasized how vulnerable cryosphere regions, that is, places covered in snow and ice are to climate change.
Even more recently, it was discovered that in only the last three decades, the glaciers on Mount Everest have lost enough ice to last for 2,000 years. According to Maharjan, the paper offers the first thorough knowledge of how society, ecosystems, water resources, and cryosphere change are interconnected in this mountainous area. The report’s main conclusions include that Himalayan glaciers have melted 65% more quickly since 2010 than they had in the preceding ten years and that decreasing snow cover brought on by global warming would result in a decrease in downstream freshwater supplies.
Additionally, it shows that about 200 of the glacier lakes in these mountains are regarded as dangerous, and by the end of the century, the area may experience a considerable increase in glacial lake outburst floods. The sinking of the mountain hamlet of Joshimath earlier this year, which necessitated the rapid removal of its population, served as a stark reminder of how severely Himalayan communities are already feeling the effects of climate change.
In order to avert irreparable changes in Earth’s snow, permafrost, and ice, experts have emphasized the urgent need to keep global warming to the 1.5 degree Celsius objective set at the 2015 Paris climate conference.