The Himalayan glaciers are melting faster than expected, and are leading to catastrophe almost two billion people who use their water to live. Glaciers disappeared 65 percent faster from 2011 to 2020 than in the previous decade, according to a report from the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development.
Glaciers could lose up to 80 percent of their current volume by the end of the century, said the Nepal-based ICIMOD, an intergovernmental organization that also includes member countries Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar and Pakistan.
Glaciers in the Hindu Kush Himalaya region are a crucial source of water for an estimated 240 million people in the mountainous regions, as well as another 1.65 billion people in the river valleys below. Recent research has found that the glaciers of Mount Everest, for example, have lost two thousand years of ice in the last thirty years alone.
Himalayan glaciers are melting faster than expected
The ICIMOD study also argues that 200 glacial lakes in these mountains are considered dangerous and that the region could experience a significant peak in flooding by the end of the century.
Lead author of the report Philippus Wester explained: 'As it gets hotter, the ice will melt, that was expected, but what's unexpected and very worrying is the speed. It's happening much faster than we thought.' ICIMOD Deputy Chief Izabella Koziell added: "With two billion people in Asia dependent on the water that glaciers and snow contain, the consequences of the loss of this cryosphere are too vast to contemplate." With two billion people in Asia depending on the water that glaciers and snow contain, the consequences of the loss of this cryosphere (a frozen area) are too vast to contemplate.
One of the most formidable consequences is then the rise in sea level, which scholars have shown to have been between 0.92 mm and 1.38 mm. The accelerating melting of glaciers in the Himalayan mountain range, which is home to the third largest amount of glaciers in the world, also poses a major threat to the water supply of millions of people who depend on the major river systems of the ' Asia for food and energy.