The inhabitants of the region depend on these glaciers, which also feed some of the world’s largest rivers, mainly to obtain fresh water.
And global warming will melt at least a third of Asia’s mountainous glaciers by the end of this century, which could affect millions of people, according to a new study published in Nature.
This even is even the most optimistic prediction of the team of researchers, based on the fact that the planet does not exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius, which is also in itself a very positive prediction. A study published in July in Nature Climate Change said that the chances of warming below two degrees are only 5 percent. These data hamper the objectives of the 2015 Paris Accord, where nearly 200 countries took responsibility for limiting warming to below 2 degrees while striving to reach 1.5 degrees.
“To achieve the target of 1.5 degrees will be a task of unprecedented difficulty. And yet, 36% (taking into account a margin of error of 7%) of the mass of ice in the high mountains of Asia should disappear” by 2100. With 3.5, 4 and 6 degrees warming, glaciers could lose 49%, 51% and 65%, respectively, the study said.
The high mountains of Asia and its glaciers are important to some of t
he world’s largest rivers, such as the Ganges, and may affect the population’s access to water.
For possible even greater increases in temperature, researchers also predict sea level rise that could invade the land, and there are more frequent droughts and floods. With this, species can be lost and diseases spread among the human population.
“Even if temperatures stabilize, the glacier mass loss will continue over the next few years”, the team said. Thus, “it is essential to minimize the rise in temperature” on the planet.
The population of South Asia and China depends on the water coming from the Himalayan glaciers for drinking water, electricity and irrigation. At the same time, as global temperatures rise, the region will be more vulnerable to floods, heavy rains and massive storms, the paper said.