Climate Change Depleting Snow Cover In Himalayas

Climate Change Depleting Snow Cover In Himalayas

Findings by the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are an alarm to the entire mankind apart from the regions lying around the Himalayas.

On Monday, the IPCC has released reports about its findings related to Climate Change and its effect in the Himalayas. The 6th Assessment Report of the IPCC state – 

scientists have ascertained that global warming will have a serious impact on mountain ranges across the world, including the Himalayas.

The report has further said – 

that glaciers are melting and receding across the globe, including in the Himalayas, and that this is now a phenomenon that is “locked in’” and cannot be reversed.

Apart from the above-stated aspect, the temperatures in the Himalayas have raised in an unprecedented manner. The temperatures have been recorded high in the past 2,000 years.

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This is an alarm to mankind and can lead to destruction on a large scale. The melting will result in serious changes in the water cycle. Once the change occurs the entire ecological balance gets affected. Floods will increase as scarcity of water is also anticipated. This will have an immediate impact on the states across the Himalayas.

It is to be remembered that the recent incidents in India can be linked to the landslide caused by a glacial break on Nanda Devi at Chamoli in Uttarakhand earlier this year that caused floods in the region. The IPCC report has highlighted with a mention that

Extreme precipitation is projected to increase in major mountainous regions with potential cascading consequences of floods, landslides and lake outbursts in all scenarios,

the Associate Director of the Environment Change Institute, University of Oxford, and one of the authors of the report, Dr.Friederike Otto said

Human influence has been responsible for the retreat of mountain glaciers in the 20th century. Glaciers are one of the slowest responding parts of the climate system. The retreat of glaciers being seen now are a result of the actions of the past and not an immediate effect. So even if we were to stop emissions right now, we should expect to see the continued retreat of glaciers over the coming decade. Of course, if its business as usual and emissions are not curtailed, this retreat will be even faster. This retreat of glaciers in the Himalayas is a matter of great concern as it will affect the availability of fresh water in the region.

Global warming has induced the earlier onset of spring snowmelt, with the increased melting of glaciers having already contributed to seasonal changes in streamflow in low-elevation mountain catchments. Mountain glaciers will continue to shrink and permafrost to thaw in all regions where they are present the report states. Moreover, mountain glaciers are projected to lose more mass in higher greenhouse gas emissions scenarios over the 21st century.

According to the predictions, the projected runoff is typically decreased by contributions from small glaciers because of glacier mass loss, while runoff from larger glaciers will generally increase with increasing global warming levels until their mass becomes depleted. All of these changes will pose significant challenges for water supply, energy production, ecosystems integrity, agricultural and forestry production, disaster preparedness, and ecotourism.

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