Global Warming Fragmenting Himalayan Glaciers

May 18th, 2014 | By | Category: Climatic Changes in Himalayas, Global Warming

The second international conference on ‘Cryosphere of the Hindu Kush Himalayas: State of Knowledge’ organised by International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development with the support of the Royal Norwegian Embassy and the Embassy of the United States in Kathmandu has launched a publication titled Status and Decadal Glacier Change from 1980s to 2010 in Nepal based on Satellite Data.

The 100-page research report provides an analysis of four decades of glacier data from Nepal. In addition, ICIMOD released four decades of glacier data from Bhutan, as well as current data on the glaciers of five river basins (Amu Darya, Indus, Ganges, Brahmaputra and Irrawaddy) of the HKH region. The report was released in the concluding ceremony of a three-day international conference which concluded yesterday.

According to the report, Himalaya glaciers have been gradually fragmented. The number of Himalaya glaciers has increased to 3,080 in 2010 from 3,430 in 1980 due to fragmentation caused by global warming. The ice level contained by Himalaya glaciers have also depleted to around 312.4 cubic metres of ice in 2010 from 441.36 cubic metres in 1980.

The conference brought together national, regional and international institutions on a common platform for sharing knowledge of the cryosphere, including on topics related to snow, glaciers, permafrost, glacio-hydrological monitoring, and mass balance.

More than 140 experts, researchers, scientists, academics and professionals from around the world attended the event. The conference helped promote knowledge sharing and strengthen the cryospheric network for monitoring and understanding the cryosphere of the HKH region. Forty research papers were discussed during the event, covering topics such as glacier mass balance measurements, satellite-based mapping of snow, ice and permafrost extent in the HKH region, glacio-hydrological measurements, and knowledge and modeling in the region.

David Molden, Director General of ICIMOD, stressed on the need to take innovative approaches in cryosphere monitoring and to come up with a comprehensive picture of the cryosphere of the HKH based on national and local level researches. Eklabya Sharma, Director of Programme Operations at ICIMOD, highlighted the importance of data in monitoring, observing, and gathering precise information on glaciers, snow, glacier melt runoff, and glacial lake outburst floods. He said the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the UN Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change could have included more information on the cryosphere of the HKH region, and requested the participants to contribute more results in the next report.

Sahidzad Khan from Pakistan Meteorological Department said the conference had encouraged scientific communities to build a shared understanding of the cryosphere of the HKH region. Aziz Panjsheri from Kabul University requested ICIMOD to conduct researches on glaciers in Afghanistan.



Started in year 2010, ‘Climate Himalaya’ initiative has been working on Mountains and Climate linked issues in the Himalayan region of South Asia. In the last five years this knowledge sharing portal has become one of the important references for the governments, research institutions, civil society groups and international agencies, those have work and interest in the Himalayas. The Climate Himalaya team innovates on knowledge sharing, capacity building and climatic adaptation aspects in its focus countries like Bhutan, India, Nepal and Pakistan. Climate Himalaya’s thematic areas of work are mountain ecosystem, water, forest and livelihood. Read>>

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