Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Kashmir glaciers shrinking at 'alarming' speed

Agence France-Presse: Rising winter temperatures are shrinking Himalayan glaciers in Indian Kashmir at "alarming" speeds, threatening water supplies to vast tracts of India and Pakistan, according to a new study. The Kolahoi glacier, the largest in the region, has shrunk by 2.63 square kilometers (one square mile) in the past three decades to just over 11 square kilometers, said the study presented at a three-day international workshop on climate change that began Monday in the Kashmiri summer capital Srinagar.

Himalayan glaciers feed into Asia's nine largest rivers that flow to China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar. The Kolahoi glacier is shrinking 0.08 square kilometers a year, "which is an alarming speed", said the three-year study led by Shakil Ramsoo, associate professor of geology at Kashmir University. "Other small Kashmir glaciers are also shrinking and the main reason is that the winter temperature in Kashmir is rising," said the study, citing an increase of 1.1 degrees Celsius over the past 100 years.

The quantity of snowfall in Kashmir, known as the "Switzerland of the East", has clearly fallen in recent decades. Despite occasional heavy snowfall, the inability of snow to freeze and develop into hard and longer-lasting crystals owing to higher temperatures has resulted in faster meltdown, say experts. "If you talk about Kashmir and you look at the statistics of climate change, it is melting faster here than any other place in the world," said Sally Dotre, an expert from Cambridge University….

Mitre Peak stands at 6,025 meters (Concordia place, Baltoro-Glacier, Central-Karakoram, Pakistan), shot by Kogo, Wikimedia Commons, under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2

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