Report: Disappearing Himalayan Glaciers Threaten Lives Downstream

Jun 23, 2023

Because of climate change , the tallest mountains in the world could lose 80% of their ice by the end of the century.  This could cause major problems for many people, according to new research.

The International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) shared a report on Tuesday. Researchers said that the melting of ice from glaciers in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region has been happening faster and faster. From 2010 to 2020, the ice in these mountains melted 65% faster than it did in the ten years before that. Scientists say it's getting worse. 

These mountains include Everest and K2. They have many rivers that give fresh water to two billion people in 16 different countries. These countries include India and China, which have the most people in the world. 

“We’re losing the glaciers, and we’re losing them in 100 years’ time,” said Philippus Wester. He is a scientist and the ICIMOD report’s lead author.

The ICIMOD report said that faster ice melting will probably cause flooding in farmland downstream at first. But then, it could lead to droughts as these sources dry up. This could cause more avalanches and landslides for those living higher up the mountains.  

If the world can manage to keep the Earth's temperature from going up too much, we might be able to keep glacier loss to 30-50%. But if global warming stays at this rate, the temperature might go up even more. This would cause most of the ice to melt. 

"We need leaders to act now to prevent catastrophe,” said Izabella Koziell. She is the ICIMOD deputy director general. 

Photo from Reuters.

Reflect: Who do you think should be responsible for paying for damages caused by the long-term effects of climate change?

Which of the following ideas is highlighted throughout the story? (Common Core RI.5.3; RI.6.3)
a. People from different countries working together to protect the environment
b. The issues the melting ice will cause for surrounding communities.
c. Innovative solutions to stop the ice from melting at an alarming rate.
d. Tourism in the Hindu Kush Himalayas.
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