Ice in the Himalayas and Hindu Kush could melt this century before the rise of temperatures caused by global warming , which will interrupt the flow of rivers vital for crops from China to India , scientists warned on Monday.
The vast glaciers of the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) region , which is home to Mount Everest and K2 , the highest peaks in the world crowned, constitute a “third pole” behind the Antarctica and the Arctic region , they said.
“It’s the climate crisis that has not been heard of,” said Philippus Wester, a scientist at the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), who led the report.
“Global warming would transform the cold mountain peaks covered by HKH glaciers that run through eight countries in less than a century into bare rocks,” Wester added.
Glaciers have thinned and retreated in most of the region since the 1970s.
The report, in which 210 authors collaborated, indicates that more than a third of the region’s ice will melt by 2100, even if energetic measures are applied to limit global warming, within the framework of the Paris 2015 climate agreement.
Two thirds of the ice could disappear if governments fail to control greenhouse gas emissions in this century.
“For me, that’s the most worrying thing,” Wester said as part of an event in Kathmandu to launch the report.
Ice in the Himalayan region of Hindu Kush would raise sea level by 1.5 meters if everything melted, said Eklabya Sharma, deputy director general of ICIMOD.
The region extends for 3 thousand 500 kilometers through Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal and Pakistan.
The study indicated that the meltwater will alter rivers such as the Yangtze, the Mekong, the Indus and the Ganges, where farmers depend on meltwater from the glacier in the dry season.
Nearly 250 million people live in the mountains and 1,650 million people live in river valleys.