Ground Report | New Delhi: Himalayan glaciers melting; Himalayan glaciers are unusually melting 10 times faster than before, so the water crisis in many Asian countries, including India.
Himalayan glaciers melting
The study, published in Scientific Reports on Monday, revealed that Himalayan glaciers are shrinking much faster than glaciers in other parts of the world and have lost about 40% of their area in the past hundreds of years.
The Himalayas are home to the third-largest amount of glacial ice in the world, after Antarctica and the Arctic. “Our findings clearly show that ice is now being lost from Himalayan glaciers at a rate that is at least 10 times the average rate over the past centuries,” said lead study author Jonathan Carrivick of the University of Leeds, cited by the United States today.
“This acceleration in the rate of loss has only emerged in the last few decades and coincides with human-induced climate change.” A recent study by Indian scientists has also sounded alarms for the region.
According to research by the Shimla State Climate Change Center (SCCC) and the Ahmedabad Space Applications Center (ISRO), “In Himachal Pradesh, a state that has five major perennial rivers fed particularly by glaciers, the area covered by snow has decreased by 18.5% between 2019-20 and 2020-21”.
Not just Himachal, the glaciers in Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh are also melting at a significant rate. According to a 2020 study, more than 1,200 glaciers in the region experienced an annual reduction in mass of 35 centimeters on average between 2000 and 2012. The study added that glaciers have shrunk from 101.73 square kilometers in 1980 to 72.41 square kilometers in 2018, showing a 28.82% decline in recession.
The eastern Himalayas is more sensitive to glacier warming and shrinking, according to the study, which cites glaciers in eastern Nepal and Bhutan. The number and size of glacial lakes are increasing, causing further acceleration of glacier mass loss, the researchers said.
“Glaciers will continue to shrink at a rapid rate until the middle of the century, leading to more runoff. After the middle of the century, a runoff will gradually decrease as the glacial area would have shrunk, ”said Anil Kulkarni, a glaciologist at the Divecha Center for Climate Change at the Indian Institute of Sciences. “This will affect the seasonality of water availability and total water availability in the region.”
Climate change in India
The Hindu Kush Himalayas experienced a temperature increase of up to 1.3 degrees Celsius between 1951 and 2014, according to a comprehensive study on climate change in India conducted by the Ministry of Earth Sciences in June 2020. Various areas of Hindi Kush Himalayas have experienced a downward trend. in snowfall and glacier retreat in recent decades, he said.
“Without a doubt, the main driver is a rapidly changing climate, and the Himalayan glaciers do not appear to be able to adjust fast enough to keep up with climate changes,” said Jonathan Carrivick, a glaciologist at the University of Leeds and co-author of the study.
Changes in the South Asian monsoon may also have played a role in ice loss in the Himalayas, the researchers said. Global sea levels are forecast to rise between 2 and 6 feet by 2100, according to NASA satellite data, and such projections underestimate the impact of climate change on sea-level rise.
Scientists have warned that a dangerous rise in sea level will occur if global warming reaches about 3 degrees Celsius, or 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit, above pre-industrial levels. The Earth has already exceeded 1 degree Celsius of warming.