Take the pledge to vote

For a better tommorow#AajSawaroApnaKal
  • I agree to receive emails from News18

  • I promise to vote in this year's elections no matter what the odds are.
  • Please check above checkbox.

    SUBMIT

Thank you for
taking the pledge

Vote responsibly as each vote counts
and makes a diffrence

Disclaimer:

Issued in public interest by HDFC Life. HDFC Life Insurance Company Limited (Formerly HDFC Standard Life Insurance Company Limited) (“HDFC Life”). CIN: L65110MH2000PLC128245, IRDAI Reg. No. 101 . The name/letters "HDFC" in the name/logo of the company belongs to Housing Development Finance Corporation Limited ("HDFC Limited") and is used by HDFC Life under an agreement entered into with HDFC Limited. ARN EU/04/19/13618
LIVE TV DownloadNews18 App
News18 English
News18 » World
3-min read

Millions in Asia at Risk from Melting of World's 'Third Pole'

Temperatures are already rising faster in this vast mountainous zone than the global average, speeding up melting of glaciers that provide water for farmers, hydro-electric power plants and drinking water for millions of people.

Updated:September 21, 2019, 3:01 PM IST
facebookTwitterskypewhatsapp
Millions in Asia at Risk from Melting of World's 'Third Pole'
Major rivers including the Brahmaputra, Ganges, Indus and Mekong are also critical for regional economies and demand for water is growing as populations increase.

This story was originally published in The Straits Times. It is republished here as part of News18.com’s partnership with Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more 250 media organisations to strengthen coverage of the climate story.

Covering Climate Now on News18.com

One of the most devastating impacts of climate change in Asia is set to be rapid melting of glaciers in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region, the source of 10 major rivers.

Temperatures are already rising faster in this vast mountainous zone than the global average, speeding up melting of glaciers that provide water for farmers, hydro-electric power plants and drinking water for millions of people.

Major rivers including the Brahmaputra, Ganges, Indus and Mekong are also critical for regional economies and demand for water is growing as populations increase.

The Hindu Kush Himalayan region covers all the high mountain chains of Central, South and Inner Asia and comprises thousands of glaciers, stretching from Afghanistan to Myanmar and including the Tibetan Plateau.

"This vast complex of high mountains produces one of the world's largest renewable supplies of freshwater. The Himalayan region has the largest reserves of water in the form of ice and snow outside the Polar Regions and that's why it is called the 'third pole'," said Dr Anjal Prakash, Associate Professor, Regional Water Studies, at TERI School of Advanced Studies in India.

About 250 million people live in this region and a further 1.65 billion people rely on its river flows downstream.

The danger is that rapid melting will, initially, increase water flows in the next few decades. Meltwater feeding the rivers would then decline as the glaciers shrink.

That could trigger unrest as nations clash over water supplies.

Underscoring the risks, a study by Himalayan Adaptation, Water and Resilience Research (HI-AWARE), a regional scientific collaboration, calculated that the water consumption in downstream areas of the Indus, Ganges, and Brahmaputra basins is projected to increase by 24 per cent, 42 per cent and 107 per cent, respectively, during this century.

Water use for industrial and domestic purposes is projected to increase three to sevenfold.

Over-extraction of ground water has already led to water shortages in some areas, which could become worse during droughts that climate scientists predict will become more intense and last longer.

Dr Prakash said that even with the most ambitious goal of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5 deg C by the end of the century, temperatures in the Hindu Kush Himalayan would rise 2.1 deg C and one-third of the region's glaciers would melt.

If global climate efforts fail, current emissions would lead to warming of up to 5 deg C warming and the loss of two-thirds of the region's glaciers by 2100.

Worse, climate computer models also project higher rainfall in the region if temperatures rise sharply.

This would lead to significant losses in glacier volume, from 36 per cent to 64 per cent, depending on the warming scenario, Dr Prakash, a coordinating lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on oceans and ice-covered parts of the globe, told The Straits Times.

The report is due for release on Sept 25.

With a certain amount of global warming locked in because of the greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere, nations reliant on Hindu Kush Himalayan waters may have to adapt, Dr Prakash said.

But also urgent is increased coordination and management of the region's water resources, which he said is lacking because of distrust between governments.

"This precedes the ineffective and inefficient management of water at virtually all levels in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region. There are eight countries that share the Hindu Kush Himalayan boundary but in most of the countries, water management is inward-looking with little attention paid to long-term cooperation for better water management," he said.

"The river systems are the economic engines of the region, especially due to the large freshwater reserve, biodiversity and natural resource support that it provides for the billions of people living downstream."

What happens to them will directly affect more than half Asia's population, he said.

Get the best of News18 delivered to your inbox - subscribe to News18 Daybreak. Follow News18.com on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Telegram, TikTok and on YouTube, and stay in the know with what's happening in the world around you – in real time.

Read full article
Next Story
Next Story

Also Watch

facebookTwitterskypewhatsapp

Live TV

Countdown To Elections Results
To Assembly Elections 2018 Results