As a result of global warming, the amount of ice melting in the Himalayas, the world’s highest mountain, has broken all previous records. A group of Indian researchers have claimed that Pakistan’s recent flood situation has worsened due to excessive melting of Himalayan ice. News NDTV.
Every year as the weather warms, teams of Indian scientists travel to the Himalayan mountains to study the Chhota Shigri Glacier in the country’s northern state of Himachal Pradesh. Over the past decade and a half, they have recorded the amount of snow cover, tested air and soil temperatures, monitored ice formation surfaces, and measured seasonal snowmelt discharge to the river valleys below.
According to their research, this year’s melting glaciers broke all previous records.
Mohammad Farooq Azam, a glaciologist at the Indian Institute of Technology in Indore, said: ‘We installed it in June and by August we didn’t even find the remains. Early summer in March and April we saw intense heat waves that exceeded the last 100-year record. We have also seen the effects of this, resulting in the melting of glaciers. Our team was on a glacier last week and we saw record-breaking melt in the Himalayas.’
The amount of heatwaves we’ve seen around the world this year has not only affected the European Alps, but the iconic Himalayas through melting snow and ice. The Himalayan mountains are essentially the largest reserves of frozen fresh water outside the North and South Poles.
Global warming is accelerating the loss of Himalayan glaciers. Its impact has been most acute in Pakistan. Recent floods have submerged the country’s farmlands and cities, affecting more than 30 million people and causing more than 1,000 deaths since June.
Warming of the Arabian Sea due to melting glaciers and La Nina weather disturbances have resulted in intense monsoon rains. Pakistani officials have termed the issue a ‘climate disaster’. That deluge is just the beginning.
Extreme floods often lead to extreme droughts. The Indus River basin, originating in Tibet and draining into the Arabian Sea near Karachi, flows through Pakistan. Its length is twice that of France and 90 percent of Pakistan’s food production depends on it.
When basins flood, most of the water flows into the ocean instead of percolating into the soil, causing water scarcity. According to a study by the World Bank, between 1.5 billion and 1.7 billion people in South Asia will be at risk of water supply crisis by 2050.
The consequences will continue to reverberate in the global economy long after the floodwaters recede in Pakistan. Extreme weather this year has had a negative impact on crop production from Brazil to France. Also we have seen ocean warming and sea level rise due to the effects of changing weather patterns. Even the severity of China’s drought has resulted from this.
The Himalayas, Karakoram and Hindu Kush mountains have about 55,000 glaciers that sustain the river system and on which more than 1.3 billion people depend for their survival. More than 7,000 of these glaciers are in Pakistan alone, where melting ice and snow have threatened to overflow thousands of high-altitude lakes.
Anjal Prakash, director of research and professor at the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad, said, ‘The science is very clear about the interconnectedness of oceans and active water cycles. Why are these two systems important? Because they control the Earth’s atmosphere. Earth’s climate-regulating system needs to be protected.’
Record-breaking heatwaves in India, floods in Pakistan and accelerated melting of glaciers on the ‘roof of the world’ could change the timing of climate talks at COP-27 in Egypt next November. Because global warming is also having an adverse effect on Egypt’s Nile River, making life difficult for farmers in its increasingly saline delta.
Developing countries account for a large share of greenhouse gas emissions. Pakistan is a shining example of that. According to International Water Management Institute Pakistan representative Mohsin Hafeez, Pakistan is the eighth most vulnerable country in the world to climate change. But the country contributes 1 percent to global emissions of greenhouse gases.
“Pakistan needs to be more vigilant and take more measures to build capacity to deal with climate change,” Hafeez said.
Floods and droughts have affected human civilization since ancient times, but are increasing in frequency and intensity as the planet warms.
Pakistan already receives annual monsoon rains. This means severe flooding will become more frequent. According to the US National Centers for Environmental Information, the period from January to July 2022 was the sixth-warmest start to a calendar year for the world in the 143-year-old record.
The crisis is already prompting lenders to waive Pakistan’s debt to help it cope. Even before the flood, the country was in financial and political turmoil. The country took a $1.2 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund this week to avoid an imminent default.
According to Finance Minister Miftah Ismail, the cost of flood damage is over $10 billion, which is equivalent to about 3 percent of the country’s gross domestic product last year. According to Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal, the swirling waters have set back the economy, affecting millions of acres of farmland, including Sindh province, which accounts for about 40 percent of the country’s valuable cotton crop.
According to Islamabad-based climate scientist Fahad Saeed, as chair of the Alliance of 77 of 134 developing countries, Pakistan along with India and others should sue at COP-27 for damages from these extreme weather events. This year’s floods are a wake-up call for all.
Nepal’s International Center for Integrated Mountain Development predicts that 64 percent of the Himalayan ice could melt by 2100. Human efforts will rapidly change the appearance of mountain ranges in their lifetime.
Indian glaciologist Azam said, ‘This year’s heatwave and massive floods in Pakistan are just a warning. This is the point to which we humans simply must return.’