Study: Some parts of Himalaya could melt because of climate change

At least a third of the ice in the Hindu Kush Himalaya region, an area that includes the world’s highest peaks Mount Everest and K2, could melt by the end of this century according to the authors of a new report titled The Hindu Kush Himalaya Assessment: Mountains, Climate Change, Sustainability and People.

Glaciers have been retreating and thinning in the area since the 1970s, the report says, but there’s been an accelerating rate of retreat since then. This loss has caused severe economic damage and floods, landslides and deadly epidemics. Global warming has also reduced snow cover and degraded permafrost.

Climate change will reduce how much food farmers will be able to produce in this part of the world. About 70% of the population of this region are farmers, and there is already great food insecurity there.

Also, warmer water temperatures will encourage the growth of invasive species. Extreme floods and droughts may “destroy the food production base of the region,” the report said. Rivers that farmers and energy companies rely on, like the Ganges, Yangtze, Mekong and Indus, will also be hurt by glacier melt.

Ultimately, climate change will probably increase the risk of violent conflict and add to the political instability.

The report says that “in spite of its importance, relatively less is known” about the region and its ecosystems. The authors hope it will be used to encourage cross-border cooperation among the regions leaders to find ways to prevent the potential devastation that climate change can bring.

You can read the report here

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