Ground Report | New Delhi: Himalayan Glaciers Disappearing; At least a third of Himalayan glaciers will disappear by the end of the century, even if countries completely reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, according to a new report from the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development.
The Himalayan region spans 3,500 kilometers spanning Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Pakistan and is home to the record-breaking peaks and glaciers that feed ten of the largest and most important river systems among the They include the Ganges, the Indus, the Yellow River or the Mekong, from which billions of people are supplied directly or indirectly, to feed themselves, produce energy or keep the air clean. Additionally, the region concentrates on four of the ‘hot spots of world biodiversity.
More than 1.9 billion people depend on water flowing from glaciers for drinking, agriculture, energy, or other purposes. As the region warms, important rivers and groundwater sources may eventually dry up, potentially triggering conflict, damaging local economies, and causing mass migration, the report said. (Water from Himalayan glaciers)
If emissions continue into the atmosphere beyond 2050, two-thirds of the Himalayan glaciers will melt by 2100. Given that global emissions continue to rise, and countries have been slow to transition from fossil fuels to clean energy, this is the most likely scenario, the report argues.
In fact, if emissions remain stable for decades to come, temperatures across the region could rise by more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the maximum temperature increase recommended by the Paris climate agreement. The World Bank has warned that global warming of up to 4 °C will cause adverse weather catastrophes.
“Global warming is on course to replace the cold, glacier-capped mountain peaks of the Hindu Kush Himalayas, which cut through eight countries and bare cliffs,” Philip Wester, who led the report, said.
Glaciers are found high in the Himalayan mountain peaks of the Hindukush, where more than 240 million people live. The communities around the mountain range receive water directly from pools created by the ice mass. Several rivers provide water to billions of people across Asia, including the Ganges, Yangtze, Irrawaddy, and Mekong, which originate from the Himalayas. These rivers are the main source of water for many people in these areas.
In the short term, these rivers are expected to flood more frequently, which can destroy neighboring homes and farmland. However, as glaciers release their ice, rivers are expected to dry up, stressing agricultural activities across the region.
Without a reliable source of water, crop yields are expected to decline, threatening food security in many countries. According to the report, more than 30% of the people living in the countries bordering the Himalayas do not have enough food, and 50% experience malnutrition.
The document has been produced over five years and includes the participation of more than 350 researchers and experts from 22 countries and 185 organizations. In total, 210 authors, 20 review editors, 125 external reviewers have participated and provided an unprecedented x-ray of this region with respect to the environment, population and biodiversity. (Himalayan Glaciers Disappearing)