Himalayan glaciers might disappear by end of this century, warns study

Glaciers in the Himalayas unfortunately could disappear by end of this century if greenhouse gas emissions aren’t taken under control, warns a new study. According to the research, melting of Himalayan glaciers would cause drastic ecological shifts resulting in massive disasters in the Kosi river basin and floods in India, also sea level will rise by a significant amount.

A team of researchers from Nepal, France and the Netherlands analysed the current trends of carbon emissions and found that if nothing is done to control the future warming then it might cause ice loss of 70-99 percent by end of this century i.e. 2100.

“Continued and possibly accelerated mass loss from glaciers is likely given the projected increase in temperatures,” said Joseph Shea, project lead and a glacier hydrologist with Kathmandu-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD).

Shea was also a member of a team that conducted a study last year by using satellite imagery and showed that Nepal’s glaciers had already shrunk by nearly a quarter between 1977 and 2010. Shea used complex computer models to show that in worst case Himalayas could lose 99 percent of its glaciers. “The worst-case scenario shows a 99% loss in glacial mass… but even if we start to slow down emissions somewhat, we may still see a 70% reduction,” said Joseph Shea. Using her computer models, Shea warned that melting glaciers could form deep lakes and could result in massive floods affecting people living in downstream.

With the study, Shea made a plea to cut down greenhouse gas emissions or else glacial loss in Nepal would be immense where groundwater resources are scarce and rainfalls are erratic.

Moreover, the study was conducted in Dudh Kosi basin in the Nepal Himalayas, it is home to some of the world’s highest mountain peaks, including the 8,848-metre high Mt Everest, and to over 400 square kilometres of glacier area.

The study appeared in the journal The Cryosphere.

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