Himalaya: ice loss underestimated by up to 65%

Truly shocking news comes from the Himalayan mountain range

by Lorenzo Ciotti
Himalaya: ice loss underestimated by up to 65%

Truly shocking news comes from the Himalayan mountain range. Ice loss in the Himalayas has so far been underestimated by up to 65% in the central region of Galong Co. This meltdown was revealed by the study published in the journal Nature Geoscience led by the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Austrian Technical University of Graz.

According to researchers led by Guoqing Zhang of the Chinese Academy and Tobias Bolch of the University of Graz, from 2000 to 2020 the region's proglacial lakes, lakes formed by the retreat of a melting glacier, increased by 47% in number, 33% by surface area and 42% by volume.

This expansion resulted in a loss of mass from the glaciers estimated at about 2.7 gigatons.

Himalaya: ice loss underestimated by up to 65%

Zhang explained: "These findings have important implications for understanding the impact of the melt process on regional water resources and also on the flooding that can be caused by lakes in the event of a flood." This loss has not been taken into account by previous studies, as the satellite data used can only measure the surface of the lakes, but not the submerged ice which is replaced by water.

The result indicates that the cause of the underreporting lies in the satellites' inability to see underwater, which prevents them from calculating the total mass of lakes formed by meltwater. The new analysis has critical implications for future projections of ice melt and the availability of water resources, not only for the Himalayas but also for all those glaciers that flow into lakes.

About Himalaya

Himalaya is a mountain system of South Asia, which rises north of the Indo-Gangetic lowland and south of the Tibetan plateau, and which forms a gigantic arc directed from north-west to south-east with the convexity facing south and between approximately 73° and 95° of long.

east and 27° and 36° lat. north. The vegetation is very rich, although its type changes according to the altitude. At the edge of the plain, at the foot of the relief and in the area of the Siwaliks and duns is the characteristic jungle formation which covers the whole eastern part up to the Sutlej.

The Terai jungle is full of lush plants such as magnolias and cashew trees with their huge trunks covered with heavy epiphytic masses. Gigantic lianas run from one tree to another, and under this thick layer of vegetation a whole tangle of gigantic ferns, tall grasses, twigs and reeds thickens, making the whole formation impenetrable; numerous and splendid orchids.

The Himalayan region is of considerable interest for animal populations. The great variety of environments present offers suitable habitats for a very large number of species. Furthermore, this mountain range constitutes the meeting point and intergradation between two faunas, i.e.

between animal species typical of the Palearctic region, of the temperate or cold type, and of the eastern region, of the tropical type. The Palaearctic species originate, or ancestors, in Turkestan (in the broadest sense) and in Tibet and are widespread on the whole northern slope, while on the southern slope they are between 2500 and 5000 m of altitude.

The tropical species, of Indo-Malay or Indian origin, are usually widespread on the southern slope of the mountain range, up to 2500 m in height.