Return to Top TenHimalayan Glaciers Melting at Alarming Rate
"If current trends, blamed on global warming, continue he predicts all the glaciers in the central and eastern Himalayas could disappear by 2035 with disastrous consequences."
Glaciers in the Himalayas are melting at an alarming rate and could cause a catastrophe if meltwater lakes overflow into surrounding valleys, Indian researchers warned early this week.
"All the glaciers in the middle Himalayas are retreating," Syed Hasnain, of Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi, told New Scientist magazine.The Gangotri glacier at the head of the Ganges River is receding at a rate of 30 metres (98 feet) per year, according to Hasnain's four-year study which will be presented to the International Commission on Snow and Ice (ICSI).
If current trends, blamed on global warming, continue he predicts all the glaciers in the central and eastern Himalayas could disappear by 2035 with disastrous consequences.
As the ice melts the water accumulates between the glacier and debris and rock, called a moraine, that was left over by the receding glacier. "The moraine is unstable. Occasionally these lakes burst, releasing enormous amounts of water," said Hasnain. "This is recognised as a serious problem in India, Pakistan, Bhutan, Tibet and China."
Scientists have pinpointed the Imja glacier lake in Nepal's Sagarmatha national park as a potential trouble spot. The lake in the popular trekking area holds 30 million cubic metres of water. Experts think it will burst within five years.
Hasnain said glaciers in the Himalayas are retreating faster than anywhere else on the planet. Along with potential flooding problems, the flow of rivers could become less reliable and eventually dry up, leading to water shortages.
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