An Overview of Glaciers, Glacier Retreat, and Subsequent Impacts in Nepal, India and China. Regional Overview – Executive Summary

[An Overview of Glaciers, Glacier Retreat, and Subsequent Impacts in Nepal, India and China. Regional Overview – Executive Summary]

Climate change is real and happening now. The planet is already experiencing its impacts on biodiversity, freshwater resources and local livelihoods. Using current climate change trends, by 2100, the average global temperature may rise by 1.4 – 5.80C according to the Third Assessment Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2001). This is certain disaster for fragile ecosystems like glaciers. Seventy percent of the worlds freshwater is frozen in glaciers. Glacier melt buffers other ecosystems against climate variability. Very often it provides the only source of water for humans and biodiversity during dry seasons. Freshwater is already a limited resource for much of the planet, and in the next three decades, the population growth is likely to far exceed any potential increase in available water. The Himalayas have the largest concentration of glaciers outside the polar caps. With glacier coverage of 33,000 km2, the region is aptly called the “Water Tower of Asia” as it provides around 8.6 X 106 m3 of water annually (Dyurgerov and Maier, 1997). These Himalayan glaciers feed seven of Asia’s great rivers: the Ganga, Indus, Brahmaputra, Salween, Mekong, Yangtze and Huang Ho. It ensures a year round water supply to millions of people.
Climate change has impacted the glacial ecosystem tremendously. Sixty-seven percent of glaciers are retreating at a startling rate in the Himalayas and the major causal factor has been identified as climate change (Ageta and Kadota, 1992; Yamada et al., 1996; Fushinmi, 2000). Glacial melt will affect freshwater flows with dramatic adverse effects on biodiversity, and people and livelihoods, with a possible long-term implication on regional food security. WWF sees the impacts of climate change on glaciers and its subsequent impact on freshwater as a major issue, not just in the national context but also at a regional, transboundary level. The WWF offices in Nepal, India and China are taking the initiative to develop a regional collaboration to tackle climate change impacts in the glacial ecosystem and address adaptation measures. This report is the outcome of a regional collaboration of the three countries, providing an overview of climate impacts on glaciers with a focus on key areas that needs future intervention. We hope this will highlight the issue of climate change and galvanize policy makers to take action to ensure a living planet for future generations.

WWF Nepal Program

Language: Inglés

Format: PDF

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