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Hindu Kush Himalayan Region. Picture Credit: www.icimod.org

Two-thirds of Himalayan Glacier at the risk of melting by 2100

A major study reveals that if the current global emissions are not controlled, it would lead to five degrees in warming and could melt the two-thirds of Himalayan glaciers by 2100.

The study was conducted in the glaciers of Hindu Kush Himalaya Region which is a critical source of water for 250 million people in the mountains as well as to 1.65 billion others in the river valleys below.

It was published by the Kathmandu-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in Nepal. The Hindu Kush Himalaya Region assessment took 5 years to complete involving more than 350 researchers and policy experts which also included 185 organizations.

According to the report, the Himalayan glaciers which were formed some 70 million years ago are highly sensitive to changing temperatures. Since the 1970s, they have thinned and retreated, and areas covered by snow and snowfall have decreased. With the melting of the glaciers, it leads to the risk of glacial lake burst and flood. The melting would also result in worsened air pollution and more extreme weather

In December, world leaders at the COP24 talks in Poland agreed on a common rule book to implement the accord, in which countries committed to limiting global temperature rises to well below two degrees Celsius. However major polluters, including the United States and Saudi Arabia, disputed a landmark scientific report released in October that suggested nations must slash fossil fuel use by nearly half in a little over a decade. The study also reports that even if the goal of Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius is achieved, one third of the glaciers would still melt.

The ICIMOD study also reported that air pollution from the Indo-Gangetic Plains also deposits black carbon and dust on the glaciers, accelerating melting and changing monsoon circulation.

The region would require up to $4.6 billion per year by 2030 to adapt to climate change, rising to as much as $7.8 billion per year by 2050, according to an estimate in the report.

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