RSTV In Depth – Melting Himalayas
Ice protects the Earth and our oceans by reflecting excess heat back into space. But today, the dwindling disappearance of mountain glaciers around the world has become an evidence of the earth’s climate change. Events of global warming and climate change have increased around the world due to increasing human activities, especially since the industrial revolution.
- Human-caused climate change is seen around the world today in the form of extreme weather, shifting wildlife populations and habitats, extinctions of a large number of species from the planet, etc.
- A glacier is a huge mass of ice that moves slowly over the land.
- Scientists have observed that glaciers on two parts of the world – Antarctica and Asia – have been impacted to a large extent by rising temperatures.
- A recent study reveals that Himalayan glaciers are melting twice as fast now as they were before the turn of the century.
- Scientists have warned that even if emissions in the coming decades are significantly curbed, more than a third of the world’s remaining glaciers will melt before the year 2100.
- The Himalayan glaciers are the third largest deposits of ice and snow in the world, after the Antarctica and the Arctic. They supply about 800 million of people with water for irrigation, hydropower and drinking.
- Variations in water supply from the rivers originating in Himalayan glaciers will affect a large number of populations.
- In short-term melting of glaciers will cause flooding of rivers originating from it. In the long run, absence of such glaciers will result in the conditions of drought and ultimately desertification.
- Melting of glaciers will:
- increase the sea level
- Cause flooding in coastal areas
- Increase landslides in mountainous regions
- Threaten food & water security.
- Impact biodiversity.
- Affect coral reefs if water level in sea rises. Coral reefs need sunlight for photosynthesis.
- As glaciers melt and oceans warm, ocean currents will continue to disrupt weather patterns
- Human activities like burning of fossil fuels, oil and gas drilling, deforestation, increasing land use in mountain regions, etc. are responsible for increasing rate of melting of these glaciers. Carbon dioxide and various Greenhouse gases emissions have caused temperature to rise even in poles.
Even 1 degree rise in global earth temperature is alarming because it takes a lot of heat to do so. Various impacts of climate change today are being seen and faced on earth like melting of glaciers, uneven extreme climate events, loss of habitats of various species, etc. It is very important thus, to control any further increase in temperature through environmental treaties and efforts by all the nations on planet Earth.