At least a third of the huge ice fields in Asia’s towering mountain chain are doomed to melt due to climate change, according to a report published at springer.com , with serious consequences for almost 2 billion people. At least a third of the ice cover in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan mountain range will melt due to climate change, says a new study. And this is occurring at a pace that even if the world limits global warming to 1.5oC, 36% of glaciers in the range will disappear by 2100.
Glaciers are the source of water for the rivers that flow to India, Pakistan, China, Nepal and others, and thus of critical importance. The Hindu Kush-Himalayan range is sometimes referred to as the planet’s “third pole” as it harbours more ice than anywhere outside Arctic and Antarctica. More than 200 scientists worked on the report over five years, with another 125 experts peer reviewing their work.
The warming rate over the last 50 years in the HKH has been 0.2 ̊C per decade. Extreme indices in the region have also changed over this period: occurrences of extreme cold days and nights have declined (days by 0.85 days per decade, nights by 2.40 days per decade), while occurrences of extreme warm days and nights have increased (days by 1.26 days per decade, nights by 2.54 days per decade). Warm nights have increased throughout the region, and extreme absolute temperature indices have changed significantly
HKH covers 3500 kms across eight countries – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal and Pakistan – and is the source of ten major river basins including the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Indus in India. Two billion people are dependent on the HKH for their water needs across Asia.