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Climate change and glacier melting have many implications for Asia’s water supply

Remote Sensing Findings reported by Haritashya, Kargel, et al. (2018). Credit: J. Kargel “width =” 600 “height =” 400 “”/>

This aerial view of Lake Lower Balun in eastern Nepal expands rapidly, with the irregular and rapidly retreating edges of melting glaciers and the deepest known Lake Himalayan (up to 205 meters or 676 feet deep). Shows Lower Balun Lake. Findings reported in the journal by Haritashya, Kargel and others (2018) Remote sensing.. Credit: J. Kargel

Climate change is melting mountain snow more rapidly and shrinking glaciers, which has a number of implications for water supply in Asia, a new treatise by senior PSI scientist Jeffrey Kagel said. I will.


These effects are changing Water supply According to a new paper, Himalayan-Karakoram Glacier Hydrology, which appears today, more than a billion people depend on rivers that originate in the Himalayas and the Karakoram Mountains. Science Kargel is a co-author. Mohd. Farooq Azam of Indian Institute of Technology Indole is the lead author.

“This new work is the most in-depth review of glacier-flowing rivers in the region to date. Our research team has collected the results of nearly 250 academic papers on climate warming and precipitation. We have reached a more accurate understanding of the relationship: change, glacier contractions, and river flow. ”

“More than a billion people water The melting glaciers of the Himalayas and the Karakoram Mountains will affect much of the population Glacier ice The mass melts throughout the century, gradually shutting down the supply of significant amounts of water. In the Indus River basin, the overall impact on annual water supply varies across the region. “Glacier meltwater, and therefore the impact of climate change on glaciers, is very important. The Ganges and Brahmaputra basins are really large because they are dominated by the rain of the Monsoon. Climate change There is talk of how it affects the monsoon. ”

Climate change and glacier melting have many implications for Asia's water supply

J. Kagel on echo sounding surveys to map the depth of Lake Lower Balun in eastern Nepal. The Lower Balun Glacier runs down steep slopes to form icefalls, at which the glaciers melt to form lakes. Lower Balun Lake flows through the Balun River into the Arun River, then the Koshi River, and finally into the Ganges River. Credit: Greg Leonard

“The mountain glaciers of the Himalayas and Karakoram are the main story that is part of the region’s annual water supply, especially in the very high mountain valleys and villages near the glaciers, where the altitude is low and as a source of glaciers. It’s less important. The annual water supply is higher than the amount of rainfall and the melting of snow in the mountains. ” “But in some of the lower valleys of the driest seasons of the region’s driest regions, glacier runoff remains predominant, and people’s lives and the ability to live there depend on glaciers. Affects millions of people. ”

The team’s work builds a stronger consensus on the important role of glaciers in regulating river flow in the region and how changing climates affect those flows. The important knowledge gap remains wide and needs to be closed in the next few years. Kargel emphasizes some gap questions. “How do snowfall and glacier health differ between river valleys? How thick are glaciers and how long can they survive in an era of accelerated melting? Geography of glacier health Fluctuations are considerable, which means that one size does not fit all when predicting future changes. ”

However, climate change not only melts glaciers, but has a wide and deep impact on the overall hydrology from mountains to deltas. Umesh Haritashya of the University of Dayton is a co-author of this treatise and a collaborator on a NASA-funded project with Kargel: “Climate change is changing rainfall and distribution. Rain and glacial melting It is expected to increase the occurrence of extreme spills and consequent flash floods, landslides, and debris flow. ”

Some aspects of global warming, such as snow, glaciers and impacts on water supply, are in the hands of local people and their leaders. “Asia now dominates global greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, smoke and soot are just as important as causing accelerated melting in the Himalayas. Glacier According to other studies, as global warming due to greenhouse gases. If the local economy can control air pollution, it may be able to control that part of the glacier contraction problem. This is a topic of ongoing scientific research by the scientific community. ”


Rock Glacier delays Himalayan ice melting


For more information:
Mohd. Farooq Azam et al, Himalayan-Kalacolm Glacier Hydrology, Science (2021). DOI: 10.1126 / science.abf3668

Quote: Climate change and glacier melting have various implications for Asia’s water supply (June 11, 2021). Obtained from https: //phys.org/news/2021-06-climate-glaciers-widely-varied-impacts.html on June 11, 2021.

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