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‘This is the climate crisis you haven’t heard of’

  • Published at 09:15 pm February 6th, 2019
web-global warming-Hindu Kush Himalaya Assessment
Hindu Kush Himalaya region Alex Treadway/ICIMOD

The study the Hindu Kush Himalaya Assessment, also finds that two-degree temperature rise could melt half of the glaciers in the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) region and will destabilize Asia’s rivers

Rising temperatures in the Himalayas, will melt at least one-third of the mountain’s glaciers by the end of the century even if the world’s most ambitious climate change targets are met - which will jeopardize the lives of almost a billion people, according to a report released Monday.

This is the climate crisis you haven’t heard of,” said Philippus Wester of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), who led the report.

The study the Hindu Kush Himalaya Assessment, also finds that two-degree temperature rise could melt half of the glaciers in the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) region and will destabilize Asia’s rivers.

“Global warming is on track to transform the frigid, glacier-covered mountain peaks of the HKH cutting across eight countries to bare rocks in a little less than a century. Impacts on people in the region, already one of the world’s most fragile and hazard-prone mountain regions, will range from worsened air pollution to an increase in extreme weather events,” Wester said.

“But it’s the projected reductions in pre-monsoon river flows and changes in the monsoon that will hit hardest, throwing urban water systems and food and energy production off kilter,” he added.  

The HKH region covers 3,500 kilometers across Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal and Pakistan. Its glaciers feed 10 of the world’s most important river systems, including the Ganges, Indus, Yellow, Mekong, and Irrawaddy. Additionally, the region contains four of the world’s biodiversity hotspots.

“The massive size and global significance of the Hindu Kush Himalaya region is indisputable, yet this is the first report to lay down in definitive detail the region’s critical importance to the well-being of billions and its alarming vulnerability, especially in the face of climate change,” said ICIMOD Director General Dr David Molden.

The comprehensive new study, the Hindu Kush Himalaya Assessment, is the first and most authoritative study of its kind of this mountain region. Developed over five years, it includes insight from more than 350 researchers and policy experts of 22 countries and 185 organizations.

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