Himalayan glaciers are melting at an alarmingly rapid rate. According to a report från International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (Icimod) in Nepal.
In the period 2011-2020, glaciers melted up to 65 percent faster than in the previous decade – something that worries lead author of the report Philippus Wester.
– When temperatures rise, ice melts – we expected it. But what surprised us, and was very disturbing, was how fast it went, he says.
– This is going much faster than we thought.
Water shortage threatens two billion
Himalayan glaciers are an important source of fresh water for large parts of humanity. As they melt at an ever faster rate, two billion people in more than a dozen countries risk running out of water.
This is more than a quarter of the world’s population.
Ten of the world’s most important river systems also receive their flow from glaciers – including the Ganges, Indus, Mekong, and Irrawaddy. The researchers also warned in the report that the melt could have catastrophic consequences for the population of the region.
“With two billion people in Asia dependent on water that comes from glaciers and snow, the consequences of losing this frigid area are immeasurable,” researcher Isabella Kozel of Isimude told AFP.
In addition to affecting fresh water supplies, the melt threatens to trigger floods and soil erosion in the region.
Recent findings once again underscore the need for urgent action, according to Philippus-Wester.
– Every small increase in temperature has enormous effects, and we must try in every way to reduce the effects of climate. This is our calling, he says.
After Antarctica and the North Pole, the Himalayas contain the largest mass of ice on Earth. Tibet is often called the “water tower of Asia”.
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