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Melting Himalayan glaciers: a big drop in a bucket that’s already full

22 13 9
11.02.2019

A NEW REPORT has warned that even if global warming is held at 1.5℃, we will still lose a third of the glaciers in the Hindu Kush-Himalaya (HKH) region.

What does that mean for rivers that flow down these mountains, and the people who depend on them?

The HKH region is home to the tallest mountains on Earth, and also to the source of rivers that sustain close to 2 billion people. These rivers supply agriculture with water and with sediments that fertilise soils in valleys and the floodplain.

SEE ALSO: Tackling climate change on a human level

Some of these rivers are hugely culturally significant.

The Ganges (or Ganga), for instance, which flows for more than 2,525km from the western Himalayas into the Bay of Bengal, is personified in Hinduism as the goddess Gaṅgā.

The Ganga River at Rishikesh, as it exits the Himalayas. Source: Anthony Dosseto

When it rains, it pours… literally

Before we get to the effect of melting glaciers on Himalayan rivers, we need to understand where they get their water.

For much of Himalayas, rain falls mostly during the monsoon active between June and September. The monsoon brings heavy rain and often causes devastating floods, such as in northern India in 2013, which forced the evacuation of more than........

© Asian Correspondent