Himalayan Glaciers On Track To Lose Up To 75% Of Ice This Century

Glaciers in Asia’s Hindu Kush Himalaya could lose up to 75% of their volume by century’s end due to global warming, causing both dangerous flooding and water shortages for the 240 million people who live in the mountainous region, according to a new report.

A team of international scientists has found that ice loss in the region, home to the famous peaks of Everest and K2, is speeding up. During the 2010s, the glaciers shed ice as much as 65% faster than they had in the preceding decade, according to the assessment by the Kathmandu-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), an intergovernmental scientific authority on the region.

“We’re losing the glaciers, and we’re losing them in 100 years’ time,” said Philippus Wester, an environmental scientist and ICIMOD fellow who was the lead author of the report.

The Hindu Kush Himalaya stretches 3,500 km (2,175 miles) across Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal and Pakistan.

At 1.5 degrees Celsius or 2C of warming above preindustrial temperatures, glaciers across the entire region will lose 30% to 50% of their volume by 2100, the report said.

But where glaciers will melt most depends on location. At 3C of warming — what the world is roughly on track for under current climate policies — glaciers in the Eastern Himalaya, which includes Nepal and Bhutan, will lose up to 75% of their ice. At 4C of warming, that ticks up to 80%.

Author: Gloria Dickie, Reuters


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