Scientists have warned that shrinking Himalayan glaciers have initiated a pattern of potentially disastrous lake formations that could imperil settlements downstream in the event of an unanticipated overspill. New research has sparked fresh climate change concerns among scientists after a visiting team of researchers disclosed some extraordinary findings.
The eastern and central Himalayan region, home to nine out of 10 world's loftiest peaks including Mount Everest has been experiencing a rapid meltdown of glaciers for quite some time, adding more substance to the perception that rising world temperatures may have exacerbated the trend.
According to recent reports, ponds on the surface of the Khumbu glacier in the Himalayas have expanded and merged to form enormous lakes, preventing mountaineers from ascending the mighty heights of the Everest. Furthermore, according to experts, while the warning is the first of its kind for this particular region, other glaciers in the Himalayas have also experienced somewhat identical and increasingly dangerous emergence of large lakes.
According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) estimates, at least 35 events of glacial lake outbursts have been recorded across regions stretching over four different countries in the last hundred years. Experts are confident that climate change is altering temperatures, snow and ice patterns and more conspicuously, rainfall projections across the tightly inhabited downstream regions of Asia. Any unforeseen surge in the scale and frequency of these events would have massively adverse implications for the inhabitants of the region.
Researcher Ann Rowan who led the team of researchers from the universities of Sheffield and Leeds in the first scientific expedition to the region since last April's devastating earthquake, echoed familiar concerns.
"A decade or so ago, there were individual ponds on the Khumbu glacier but in the past five years or so they have begun to get larger and join up. Particularly, on the left hand side of the lower reaches of the glacier, there is a series of about seven or eight large ponds that are now starting to link and form a big chain. There is water flowing from the upper part of the glacier through the series of these ponds and that is going to encourage them to join up. At present, the glacier appears to be disintegrating, and may form a few large and potentially hazardous lakes on the glacier surface."
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the total area of glaciers in the Himalayan territories will shrink from 1930051 square miles to 38,000 square miles by 2035.
"Glaciers in the Himalayas are receding faster than in any other part of the world and if the present rate continues, the likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high if the earth keep getting warmer at the current rate".
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