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Disappearing glaciers of the Himalayas

Disappearing glaciers of the Himalayas
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Over 70 percent of the glacier volume in the Mount Everest region in the Himalayas could be lost in 85 years if greenhouse gas emissions continue to...

70% volume may be lost in 85 years due to greenhouse effect

New Delhi: Over 70 percent of the glacier volume in the Mount Everest region in the Himalayas could be lost in 85 years if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, a new paper suggests. It also indicates more flood risk in the future in the Kosi river downstream from Nepal to India.


The paper, "Modelling glacier change in the Everest region, Nepal Himalaya", published on Wednesday in The Cryosphere, a journal of the European Geosciences Union (EGU), said the glacier volume could be reduced between 70 and 99 percent by 2100.


It is a first approximation to how the Himalayan glaciers will react to increasing temperatures in the region. The results depend on how much greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise and on how this will affect temperature, snowfall and rainfall in the area.

A team of researchers from Nepal, France and the Netherlands have found the Everest glaciers could be very sensitive to future warming and that sustained ice loss through the 21st century is likely.


If greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, the glaciers could experience dramatic change in the decades to come, said the study. "The signal of future glacier change in the region is clear: continued and possibly accelerated mass loss from glaciers is likely given the projected increase in temperatures," said Joseph Shea, a glacier hydrologist at the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in Kathmandu.


"Our results indicate that these glaciers may be highly sensitive to changes in temperature and that increases in precipitation are not enough to offset the increased melt," Shea said. Increased temperatures will not only increase the rates of snow and ice melt but can also result in a change of precipitation from snow to rain at critical elevations, where glaciers are concentrated.


Together, these act to reduce glacier growth and increase the area exposed to melt, said the leader of the study. The researchers studied glaciers in the Dudh Kosi basin in the Nepal Himalayas, which are home to some of the world's highest mountain peaks, including Mt Everest, and to over 400 sq km of glacier area.

By:Vishal Gulati

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