The latest scientific findings bring alarming news from Nepal, where the mountains, part of the majestic Himalayan chain, have lost nearly athird of their glaciers over the past three decades. The data underscore the pace of climate change. Mountains that have been covered with snow for centuries are increasingly presenting bare, rocky slopes. It’s not just a matter of appearance – the melting of glaciers in the mountains is first and foremost a serious consequence for the ecosystems, economy and daily life of the region’s inhabitants.
Melting glaciers – UN chief’s appeal
During his four-day visit to the Mount Everest region, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres gave alarming data on the extent to which Nepal’s mountains have lost their ice caps. The melting of glaciers is accelerating, and as a result, he expressed grave concern and called for action in strong words: “I am here today to call out from the roof of the world: stop this madness.”
His call for an end to the fossil fuel era is a response to the threat of flooding and community destruction, as well as the risk of drastic sea level rise. He stressed the need to globally limit the temperature rise to 1.5°C in order to avoid “the worst of climate chaos,” as the world can no longer wait. Guterres pointed out that Nepal, located between two major sources ofCO2 emissions, India and China, has seen a 65 percent increase in the rate of glacier melt over the past ten years. Confirmation of this disturbing phenomenon can be found in a recently published report.
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Melting of glaciers in the Himalayas accelerates – report
A study conducted by Nepalese researchers and published in June of this year confirmed that ice and snow deposits on the summits of the world’s highest mountains are being reduced by rising temperatures faster than thought. An analysis published by the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development in Kathmandu shows that between 2010 and 2019, glaciers in the Hindu Kush and Himalayan areas shrank by 65 percent. faster compared to the decade before. This discovery sheds new light on the dynamics of climate change and points to much faster-than-expected effects of rising temperatures. The rapid melting of glaciers is confirmation that climate change is gaining momentum, and the consequences are becoming more apparent and more difficult to reverse.
Melting glaciers threaten important ecosystems
Melting glaciers have far-reaching effects not only on local ecosystems, but also on agriculture, livestock and the economy of areas inhabited by nearly 1.8 billion people. These gathering momentum changes are threatening the region’s biodiversity, forcing many species to live in smaller and less stable environments. Climate change is causing centuries-old ice deposits to disappear at an alarming rate, not only in the Himalayas, but also in other key areas of the globe, such as Antarctica and Greenland. It is estimated that the glaciers of the Himalayas could lose up to 75 percent. its mass by the end of the century.
Guterres warns that this could lead to a significant reduction in the flow of water in the region’s major rivers, which, combined with rising sea levels, could devastate delta areas. These changes would be catastrophic for low-lying countries and the communities living there.
Melting glaciers – dangers for people
Water resources for the approximately 1.8 billion people who live in many countries near mountains or in the lower reaches of rivers depend on water from melting ice and snow deposits. Snow acts as a natural reservoir, so its absence means less water for agriculture, consumption and energy production . Declining snowpack is a problem for access to water in local communities, as well as for the hydropower sector, which supplies about 80 percent of the country’s water supply. Electricity in Nepal.
Melting glaciers lead to changes in the landscape and increase the risk of natural disasters such as floods and landslides, especially when combined with sudden events such as earthquakes. Other consequences of the depletion of the snowpack include melting permafrost, which can cause land instability. This phenomenon threatens the foundations of structures and can lead to the destruction of infrastructure. With the disappearance of glaciers, the population has to contend with various threats. The natural dangers that already afflict mountain areas will intensify as temperatures rise and climate change continues.
To prevent this, there is a need to slow the pace of climate change in Nepal’s mountains, which requires direct attention to key factors such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions and applying sustainable development principles. The UN representative signaled that the effects of climate change in the mountains and cooperation with local communities will be a key topic at the upcoming COP28 conference.
We also encourage you to read the article “How much snow is on the summit of Mount Everest? And why is that not enough anyway?“, which also addresses the issue of ongoing climate change and melting ice on Earth’s highest peak. It describes how the latest findings on the thickness of the world’s rooftop snow fit into the alarming context of global warming. You will also learn how pollutants such as dust and soot accelerate the melting of glaciers.