Melting glaciers can cause water crisis in mountainous region: Experts

Kathmandu – Experts and scientists have warned that Himalayan region will see a serious crisis of water due to the melting of glaciers.

Glaciologist Tenzing Chogyal Sherpa says he sees the impact of glacier melting in the drinking water. A local of Khumbu region (Everest region), Sherpa says he has been experiencing that the water crisis is looming gradually. Gyazo is the main source of water for the villages of Pasang Lhamu Rural Municipality such as Namche, Khumjung, and Khunde of Khumbu.  Sherpa says there won’t be any source of water for the villages once the Gyazo glacier completely melts. Researchers say the source of rivers flowing through mountainous region will be affected.

Chairman of Himalayan Research Centre and researcher Dhananjaya Regmi said that equilibrium line is also increasing gradually. He said that the snow is melting from the place where one can find piles of snow. The process is shifting towards the mountain top. Many reports have been published worldwide regarding increase in the temperature and the effects that have been taking toll in the Himalayan area. The reports have revealed different facts. The report (Assessment of Hindu Kush) published by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in February last year has stated that 70 to 90 percent of snow will melt within 2100. The report published in ‘Science of The Total Environment’ has stated that 50 percent of snow will melt within 2100. Similarly, the report published by University of Lights in Earth and Planetary Letters, however, stated that 8 to 10 percent snow will melt within 2100.

Chief at Tribhuvan University Department of Geology, Dr Narendra Khanal said that the issues of Himalayan area published in various journals should be studied through research method. “The study and research of mountain were started from 1980. All the researchers have their own methods of research. That is why, the reports will also be different,” said Khanal, adding, “All the research have pointed out the risk of Himalayan area. It should be understood that the risk was increased due to climate change.”

The research carried out recently has showed that the glacier in the Himalayan area is melting rapidly. Glaciologist Tenzing Chogyal Sherpa said that the snow equivalent to 18,425 ropani of land was melted in Khumbu Pasang Lhamu of Solukhumbu alone. One can find only rock instead of snow in that area. The research conducted in the glacier of Khumbu area stated that 36 billion cubic metre water had flowed from 55 square km. According to Sherpa, the water can fill 14,000 swimming pools required for the Olympic games. Thera are around 198 glaciers in Khumbu area.

Chairman at the Mountain Research Centre Dr Dhananjaya Regmi said that the snow has been melting due to the effect of geothermal heat. The glaciers of Khumu area is moving ahead at an average rate of 50 metre every year. The research jointly carried out by University of Lights and Himalaya Research Centre since 2016 has found that the temperature of ice below the surface is higher than expected. The team led by Dr Dokkan Koinsi had found 0 to minus 3 degree Celsius temperature to a depth of 192 meter.  The temperature, however, should e bminus 10 to minus 15 degree Celsius. The team measured the temperature by digging 27 holes in Thukla, Lobheche, Pyramid, Goswachep and Sagarmatha Base Camp below 5300 metre of Khumbu glacier.  Dr Dokkan Koyensi said that the slow will melt quickly as the temperature of ice was found warmer than the temperature of wind. Some Japanese scientists had carried out study to find out the temperature below the land in 1970. This is the first time that the study was conducted to find out the temperature below the land since then.

Changes

One can see abundant snow in Sorang Himal in Khumbu region in 1978. But, the shape of the mountain was changed within 2004 due to the rapid melting of snow. Similarly, only black rocks can be found in fokalde glacier in Khubu region. The Gyazo glacier is on the verge of extinction. According to scientists, increasing temperature is to be blamed for the melting of snow. Dr Dokkan Koyesi said that increasing industries and greenhouse gas produced from the industries should be blamed for the melting of snow.

The average global temperature, which was below -17.77 degrees Celsius between 1885 to 1939, started growing from 0 Fahrenheit and became -17.5 degrees Celsius.

The global temperatures seem to have fluctuated from 1940 to 1976. In this period, the temperatures went up and down, according to Dr Dokkan Koinsi. But the global temperatures continued to rise since 1976. According to world climate organization, the average global temperature rose by 1.5 degrees Celsius between 1976 to 2016. In comparison to global temperature, Nepal’s average global temperature rose by 2 degrees Celsius. That’s why Nepal’s mountains are melting fast, say the experts. According to the Department of Hydrology and Metrology, Nepal’s average temperature increased by 1.6 degrees Celsius in the last 30 years. If the temperatures continued to rise at the current rate, Nepal’s temperature will rise by five degrees Celsius in the next 100 years. A study conducted by the Ministry of Environment in 2010 has estimated that the rate of average temperature rise will be 1.2 degrees by 2030, 1.7 degrees by 2050, and 3 degrees by 2100.

Various studies have shown that mountains are melting at faster rates. A research paper published on Science Advances underlined that the rate of ice loss in Himalayas was double the average during 2000–2016 period.  The study was carried out along the entire 2000-km transect Hindu Kush Himalayan region from 1970 until now by analyzing the satellite images. According to the study, eight billion tons of ice has been melting from the Himalaya every year. The paper also stated that the height of the glacier in the Himalaya region has been decreasing by 5 meters every year. In addition, the research has also blamed the human activities for the increase in global warming, pollution, and held the local weather responsible for melting the ice.

The article has stated that around 1 billion people will be affected when the snow of 2000-km transect melts. Himalaya is the main source of drinking water for one billion people. A researcher involved in the research, Professor George Shefar says the melting of Himalaya affects the sources and that will result in a crisis.

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