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Climate Change: Worsening Effect On The Hindu Kush Himalayan Region Will Impact Its Water Supply; 1.5 Billion People In Jeopardy

First Posted: Dec 22, 2016 04:10 AM EST
Changing Climate And Hydrology In The Hindu Kush Himalayan Region
Damage on the water flow can be experienced if the current rate of the glacial retreat continues.
(Photo : ICIMOD/YouTube Screenshot)

The effect of climate change will put the lives of 1.5 billion people in jeopardy. The study shows that the Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region is likely to be affected by the global warming and impacts their water system.

The Hindu Kush Himalayan region will face more glacial retreat. The shifting of the snow and rain because of climate change also hits their regional water supply.

Dr. Arun B. Shrestha and Anjali Prakash came from the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development conducted the study.

The study revealed that at lower elevations, the glacial retreat is not the cause of the changes that are happening with water over the next couple of decades. However, other factors such as groundwater reduction and the increase of human consumption are most likely the root of the impact.

As for the higher elevation areas, they could experience damaged water flow in some of the rivers if the rates of glacial retreat continue. The study suggested that, "The shifts in the location, intensity, and variability of rain and snow due to climate change impacts will likely have a greater impact on regional water supplies and groundwater recharge than glacial retreat," according to The Economic Times.

The Hindu Kush Himalayan region is one of the most diverse, dynamic and complex mountain systems in the world. It has rivers and glacial system that make the region a "Third Pole" of the Earth. It provides fresh water resources to 1.3 billion people downstream and 210 million in the mountains.

However, Times of India reported that scientific evidence shows that a variety of glaciers in the HKH region are melting. But the effect of this melt on the water system has not yet been identified.

Dr. Shrestha and Prakash said that the glaciers are the primary source of water in the HKH region. "Increased melting may initially increase the volume of water in rivers, which could mean increased flooding, but as the glaciers recede and disappear, the amount of melted snow entering rivers could decrease significantly. Such a situation would result in a substantial decline in the rates of groundwater recharge in some areas."

Furthermore, the study added that, "Combined with variations in summer monsoon precipitation and surface water flows, depleted groundwater would lead to highly significant water stress in many parts of the HKH and downstream."

Meanwhile, the "Third Pole" still continues to provide resources to significant places of the world's population. But the study warned that just like all other ecosystems, the water needs much attention and better regional cooperation.

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