GILGIT – In the high altitude and sparsely populated area of northern Pakistan, experts from Gilgit Baltistan have decided to do something about the worsening climate change situation.
People in the northernmost region depend entirely on glaciers and snowmelt to irrigate crops, and experts have now found a unique way to deal with an acute problem of water scarcity hampering crops.
Experts from Gilgit-Baltistan University, Karakoram Gilgit International University and WAFA Foundation, together with local residents, have created five man-made glaciers in the region where global warming has hit hard, in particular these last years.
Artificial glaciers, also known as ice stupas, were formed to collect and freeze abundant water in cold weather for use in the dry season. A 50-foot man-made glacier can be created in a matter of weeks and can store over a quarter of a million gallons of water.
These man-made glaciers were developed as part of the Department of Climate Change‘s Glacier Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF) project to mitigate the effects of climate change and ensure a continuous water supply.
Local media claimed that two glaciers had been developed in Skardu, the Gilgit-Baltistan expedition center, while one each had been established in Nagar, Hussainabad and Khuwardu. Four of these glaciers rise to over 4,000 meters while one is over 3,200 meters.
The man-made glaciers were connected to a water source on higher ground by a polyethylene tube to draw water downstream. Galvanized iron pipes are used to transport the water collected at the base of the ice to a sprinkler system that sprays the water on the ice stupa to freeze the water.
Pakistani United Nations Development Program (UNDP) official Mehvish Bukari, speaking on development, said the UN agency would observe these glaciers weekly to ensure local residents receive a supply. in uninterrupted water for the summers of the years to come.
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, India and Nepal have also created man-made glaciers in the region to deal with water scarcity amid climate change. Residents of Great Britain face similar problems to other high-altitude regions as they need water to support themselves, but climate change is shrinking the region’s glaciers, intensifying droughts and triggering flash floods.
The 2020 Global Climate Risk Index placed the South Asian country in fifth place on the list of countries most vulnerable to climate change.
Pakistan has lost an estimated 10,000 lives, suffered economic losses worth billions, and has witnessed more than 150 extreme weather events that show the country’s vulnerability to climate change.