Home Glaciers Over 1 billion people will be affected if the melting of Himalayan glaciers continues: study

Over 1 billion people will be affected if the melting of Himalayan glaciers continues: study


The volume and flow of water in rivers like the Indus, Ganges and Brahmaputra are expected to increase excessively as snow and glaciers continue to melt due to climate change. The change in volume and flow of water could trigger a flood-like situation in the lowlands affecting more than a billion people, who depend directly or indirectly on these resources.

A study conducted by a team from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Indore on the glacial hydrology of rivers in the Himalayan region of Karakoram indicates that melting glaciers and snow are important elements in the region and whether it continues over the course of the century, it may one day cease supplying water altogether.

The study was published in the journal Science.

Led by Dr Mohammad Farooq Azam, Assistant Professor at IIT Indore, the study shows that glaciers and snowmelt are important features of the Himalayan rivers of the Karakoram with greater significance for the Indus than the basins of the Ganges and Brahmaputra.

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The team of researchers gathered the results of more than 250 academic research papers to come to the conclusion of a link between global warming, changes in precipitation and retreating glaciers.

The team predicts that total river runoff, melting glaciers and seasonality of flow are expected to increase through the 2050s (Photo: Getty)

“The Himalayan river basins cover an area of ​​2.75 million square kilometers and have the largest irrigated area of ​​577,000 square kilometers, and the world’s largest installed hydropower capacity of 26,432 MW. Melting glaciers meet the water needs of more than one billion people in the region, ”Dr Azam said in a statement. He added that these people will be affected when much of the mass of glacial ice melts during this century and gradually stops providing water to inland rivers.

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While the Ganges and Brahmaputra basins derive much of their water from the monsoons, the situation is different for the Indus River, which is largely dependent on glaciers. However, the evolution of precipitation and the increase in global temperature will also affect the Ganges and Brahmaputra basins.


The team predicts that total river runoff, melting glaciers, and seasonality of flow are expected to increase through the 2050s and then decrease, with a few exceptions. The researchers called for focusing more on the problems and assessing the current state and potential future changes of rivers for sustainable management of water resources for agriculture, hydropower, drinking water, sanitation. and dangerous situations.

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The team offers a three-tiered solution to the challenge and offers enhanced glacier monitoring by expanding observational networks that place fully automatic weather stations on selected glaciers, developing comparison projects to examine area and volumes. of glaciers, glacier dynamics and implementing knowledge from these studies. in detailed models of glacial hydrology to reduce uncertainty in projections

ections, which will lead to better preparation.

The research was funded by the Ministry of Science and Technology.