Himalayan glaciers melting fast: Scientists: Bangladesh to face catastrophe
Syful Islam, New Delhi
South Asian countries including Bangladesh will face climate catastrophe shortly as Himalayan glaciers are melting rapidly, apprehended scientists of World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and Birla Institute of Technology (BIT).
Launching a report yesterday titled 'Witnessing change: Glaciers in the Indian Himalayas' they also said that small glaciers are melting quickly and many of those are already vanished.
They said glaciers have been receding continuously and significantly.
"The Gangotri glacier has been receding since the last 'Little Ice Age', which ended in the 19th century. The tributary glaciers have also shrunk and some of them have even got separated from the main trunk of the glacier. This fact is evident by systematic studies going on since 1935 on the movement of the glacier snout, and by the presence of recessional features such as the terminal and lateral moraines (GSI, 2001)," they said at the congress of International Federation of Environmental Journalists (IFEJ) .
"In the past century, the retreat rate of the glacier had shown a rising trend. It has been observed by glaciologists that the snout of the Gangotri glacier has retreated by about two km in the last 100 years," said scientist Dr Rajesh Kumar of BIT.
"The science of climate change is complex as it is not only about temperature variations, but also the impact of local environmental factors; non-climate stressors play an equally critical role. The ecologically fragile Himalayan ecosystems harbour a diverse range of flora and fauna. Moreover, a range of ecological services generated by the Himalayan ecosystems support the well-being of communities in the mountains and floodplains. Changes in these will result in immediate long-terms impacts and requires development of appropriate adaptation responses," he added.
The report revealed that being more close to the Tropic of Cancer, the Himalayan glaciers are receiving more heat than the Arctic and temperate climate mountain glaciers, and they have become very sensitive to the rising temperature or climate variability both at regional and global levels.
"Some of the studies carried out in the Indian Himalayas clearly point out an increase in glacial melting. For instance, the Baspa basin of Himachal Pradesh has shown an increase in the winter stream flow by 75 per cent as compared to the rate in 1966. This is in tandem with the rise in average winter temperatures in the area, thus illustrating the impacts of global warming in the form of increased snow ablation, which in turn has augmented the stream flow."
The study feared that glacial retreat could pose the most far-reaching challenge in the Himalayan region. "The dynamics of monsoon are influenced by Himalayan system and they act as a reservoir to sustaining agriculture, providing freshwater and groundwater recharge, and is home to a unique ecosystem with many endemic species."
"Adaptation to climate change, therefore, requires not just local action but also trans-boundary cooperative arrangements. Future efforts in building the resilience of the local community and the ecosystems should take into account a concerted and integrated approach," it said.
Shirish Sinha of WWF said, "There is an urgent need by communities, scientists and policymakers to take a closer look at the linkages between scientific research, policy interventions and the larger understanding of using resource conservation technologies and practices for promoting societal benefits."