Saturday, November 15, 2008

Himalayan glaciers 'melting away' (UK): Glaciers in the Himalayas are at risk of disappearing by the year 2035, according to Ajit Tyagi, Director General of the Indian Meteorological Department. Studies have shown evidence of an accelerated rate of glacier-melt at the roof of the world. One example is Kolhai glacier in Kashmir, one of the largest glaciers in the Himalayas.

According to Muneer Ahmad of the National Geophysical Research Institute in Hyderabad, India, the nose of this glacier receded by nearly 22 metres in 2007, while several smaller examples have disappeared completely. It is easy to rush out the phrase 'global warming'; it has been claimed, for example, that the celebrated snows of Kilimanjaro are disappearing because of warming, but this is more likely to be due to a paucity of precipitation (including snow) across that part of Africa than increased melting. Even so, this might still be indicative of some sort of shift in climate, experts say.

In the case of the Himalayas, warming of some description does seem a likely culprit, particularly given the extent of the infamous 'Atmospheric Brown Clouds', three of which are suspended across Asia….

Should glaciers disappear as quickly as feared then there would be serious repercussions; the glaciers form a constant reservoir that feeds the major rivers of South Asia, such as the Ganges, the Indus and the Brahmaputra. Without the glaciers the flow of these rivers would become seasonal, leaving the livelihoods and lives of tens of millions of people swinging between flood and drought, it has been pointed out.

View of Himalayan peaks near Kanchenjunga Base Camp, from the Zemathang glacier. Shot by Amar, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5 License

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