Saturday, 16 February, 2019

Third of Himalayan glaciers can no longer be saved

The Ngozumpa Glacier in the Himalayas of Nepal filling the valley in the foreground now contains meltwater pools The Ngozumpa Glacier in the Himalayas of Nepal filling the valley in the foreground now contains meltwater pools. Whitworth Images Getty Images
Sandy Nunez | 06 February, 2019, 22:42

"Global warming is on track to transform the frigid, glacier-covered mountain peaks of the (Hindu Kush Himalaya) cutting across eight countries to bare rocks in a little less than a century", Wester said.

A water crisis awaits Access to water is already a great concern for people living in mountains in India, the changes in global warming could also result in a water crisis.

Speaking to RFI, he explains that "what we're seeing around the world in mountains is that it gets hotter faster than the global average".

Not meeting the ambitious Paris Agreement goal of limiting a global temperature spike to 1.5 degrees Celsius from preindustrial levels will make the disappearance of these glaciers by the end of the century certain, while meeting the goal would still lead to a loss of a third of the glaciers, according to the assessment. The irony is that even the isolated valleys have been touched by climate change.

The five-year study looked at the effects of climate change on a region that cuts across Asia through Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, China, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar.

The 2015 Paris Agreement was a landmark moment in worldwide diplomacy, bringing together governments with vastly different views to tackle global warming. And the main cause of that is explained rising temperature, according to the scientists.

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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.

"This is the climate crisis you haven't heard of", said Philippus Wester of ICIMOD, who led the assessment.

The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development said the study included work by more than 350 researchers and policy experts from 22 countries. The scientists after recent research are claiming that at least one third of the ice in the Himalayas and the Hindu Kush would defrost this century as the mercury goes up.

The study noted, "The warming rate over the last 50 years in the HKH has been 0.2 ̊C per decade". He said in a statement that mountain regions were also extremely vulnerable as "climate hotspots".

The temperature increase is a target set under the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

Further, the report warns that extremes in precipitation are increasing in the HKH region. It, however, points out that consensus among climate models for the region is "weak" which is a result of the area's complex topography and the coarse resolution of global climate models.