A view of the Himalayas from the hill station of Kausani in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand on Nov. 13, 2015. (Agnes Bun / AFP/Getty Images)
Gabrielino High School

Melting glaciers in the Himalaya show long-term damages for its future

Due to increasing temperatures, the glaciers in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region are melting at a drastic rate.

Despite the Paris Agreement’s effort to limit global warming temperatures to 1.5 C (34.7 F), a report done by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said that the global temperature can exceed that limit by over 3.6 C (38.4 F) and bring detrimental effects to the region by 2030.

According to research conducted by the Hindu Kush Himalayan Assessment, one-third of the Himalayan glaciers will disappear by 2100. The Hindu Kush Himalayan region is 2,000 miles and extends from Afghanistan to China. This region holds over 30,000 square miles of glaciers and acts as a vital water source for more than a quarter of the world’s population.

Since the 1970s, rising temperatures had thinned out the glaciers there. If the temperature continues to increase, it will bring disastrous effects to 240 million people living within the area.

Along with changing temperatures, the weather in the region will also be affected. Snowfall and rain patterns will fluctuate when the climate warms up.

Philippus Wester, the Chief Scientist of Water Resource Management for the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) reported that monsoon seasons will become more intense due to heavy rainfalls.

In turn, the water levels are going to rise as a result of the heavy rainfalls plus the melting glaciers, which will cause heavy floodings in agricultural regions.

If changes are left unaddressed, many experts argue that the lives of millions of people will be affected by the damages caused by the melting glaciers. The majority of the population around the Himalayan Kush Region rely on agriculture to sustain themselves.

The frequent flooding will disrupt cultivation. As a result, many farmers in the region would be displaced from their homes and the economies of nations such as Nepal would be severely impacted by the mass migration of farmers.

“Impacts on people in the region […] will range from worsened air pollution to an increase in extreme weather events,” said Philippus Wester in a report from the ICIMOD.   

Since the melting glaciers signify the loss of freshwater, there will would be a restraint on the water supply for a billion people who depend on the Himalayas as a water source.

“We will be landless refugees,” Pasang Tshering Gurung, a farmer from the Himalayan-Nepalese village of Samjong said to the New York Times. “How can we survive in the Himalayas without water?”

Additionally, the loss of fresh water will affect the aquatic life in the surrounding regions in the nearby lakes and rivers due to the uneven salinity in the water.