Photo by Dr. Mohd. Farooq Azam

After Antarctica and the Arctic, the Himalayas are the third largest deposit of ice and snow in the world. But glaciers here are melting rapidly due to global warming. The rapid glacial melt is inundating the rivers originated from the Himalayas and raising sea-levels. This is causing extreme floods in South and East Asia. The devastating 2022 flood in Pakistan is a case in point. This flood drowned one third of the country, causing more than 33 million people to become homeless.

“The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development in Nepal predicts the Himalayas could lose 64% of their ice by 2100 — within a human lifetime”

—Bloomberg, Melting Himalayan Glaciers Are Making Pakistan’s Floods Worse

The melting is also threatening the life of the 240 million people who live on the mountains. Hundreds of thousands of people there have already deserted their homes and become climate refugees because of the retreating glaciers and ensuing water crisis.

“By mid-century, [in] the IPCC RCP8.5 scenario, the extended region will lose two thirds of its glacial mass, with the eastern Himalaya seeing a near total loss of its glaciers”

—United Nations Development Programme, Confronting Climate Change to Save the Third Pole

Some models even project the eastern Himalayas will be ice-free by 2050. These glaciers feed 10 of the largest rivers in Asia. Nearly two billion people depend on them for drinking water, agriculture, and hydroelectric power, and three billion people consume the food produced in these river basins. The rapid retreat and disappearance of these glaciers would have devastating impacts on these people, which could destabilize the region and the world.

The world needs to take immediate action to slow the melting and preserve these glaciers over time. We cannot wait another 30 or more years for the climate to stabilize.

The Bright Ice Initiative team is planning a research test at the Chhota Shigri Glacier in the Himalayas beginning in June 2024. Based on our previous field testing and simulation results, we have high confidence of success the research-scale field trial is the next critical step and the team is ready to undertake this challenge, but we need your support to make it happen. Please donate today.

 

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