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 user 2005-03-19 at 9:40:00 am Views: 115
  • #10935
    Himalayan glaciers ‘melting fast’
    Melting glaciers in the Himalayas could lead to water shortages
    for hundreds of millions of people, the conservation group WWF has warned.

    In a report, the WWF says India, China and Nepal could experience floods
    followed by droughts in coming decades.

    The Himalayas contain the largest store of water outside the polar ice caps,
    and feed seven great Asian rivers.

    The group says immediate action against climate change could slow the rate of
    melting, which is increasing annually.

    “The rapid melting of Himalayan glaciers will first increase the volume of
    water in rivers, causing widespread flooding,” said Jennifer Morgan, director of
    the WWF’s Global Climate Change Programme.

    “But in a few decades this situation will change and the water level in
    rivers will decline, meaning massive eco and environmental problems for people
    in western China, Nepal and northern India.”


    The glaciers, which regulate the water supply to the Ganges, Indus,
    Brahmaputra, Mekong, Thanlwin, Yangtze and Yellow rivers, are believed to be
    retreating at a rate of about 10-15m (33-49ft) each year.

    The world faces an economic and development
    catastrophe if the rate of global warming isn’t reduced
    Hundreds of millions of people throughout China and the Indian
    subcontinent – most of whom live far from the Himalayas – rely on water supplied
    from these rivers.

    Many live on flood plains highly vulnerable to raised water levels.

    And vast numbers of farmers rely on regular irrigation to grow their crops

    The WWF said the potential for disaster in the region should serve to focus
    the minds of ministers of 20 leading industrialised nations gathering in London
    for two meetings on climate change.

    “Ministers should realise now that the world faces an economic and
    development catastrophe if the rate of global warming isn’t reduced,” Ms Morgan

    Temperatures rising

    She added that a study commissioned for the WWF indicated that the
    temperature of the earth could rise by two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial
    levels in a little over 20 years.

    Allowing global temperatures to rise that far would be “truly
    dangerous”, Ms Morgan said.

    Nepal, China and India are already showing signs of climate change, the WWF
    report says.

    Nepal’s annual average temperature has risen by 0.06 degrees Celsius, and
    three snow-fed rivers have shown signs of reduced flows.

    Water level in China’s Qinghai Plateau wetlands have affected lakes, rivers
    and swamps, while India’s Gangotri glacier is receding by 23 metres each year.