Climate Change and its effect on Himalayan glaciers

06 Jun, 2021 Himalaya Land Treks

Climate change

Climate change is a major issue in today’s world. Year after year the average temperature of the globe is increasing. The decade of 2011-2020 is considered as the warmest decade reaching 1.1 degree Celsius above the average. This might seem to be a small number but the vigorous change can be felt by each one of us.
Winter is getting short, summer is getting more scorching, monsoon left its usual fall time, autumn started to shade late, artic is melting, oceans are rising, corals are disappearing, the world is getting sophisticating, the weather is getting violent and many more can be felt. A small temperature rise is giving a huge change. Then, imagine what would be the world like in the next few decades. Where would the glaciers move in the next few decades, where would the summer rise, where would the winter reach, how much will the artic shrink, where would the biodiversity fall, where would the oceans reach, a lot of queries comes up? This is not only a threat to nature, but it is also a threat to whole human life existence.

Effect of climate change on Himalayan glaciers

This issue of climate change has created its greatest threat on Himalayan glaciers. The Columbia University research shows that these glaciers have been losing half a meter of ice each year since the beginning of this century, which is double the amount of melting which occurred between the years 1975-2000. A recent study showed that the glaciers lost about 8 billion tons of water every year.  
A small temperature rise has given this huge loss to Himalayan glaciers. If this rate of loss goes on increasing then, where would these glaciers reach in the next decade? Do they exist? What would be the condition of Himalayan land in the next decade? Where would the human population move?
Melting glaciers shows their immediate impact on flooding. This initially affects adversely on the human settlement downwards. If this change keeps on going, then it won’t take a longer period for the world to change into a desert. If the Himalayas is affected this way then just imagine how the lower lands are affected.

Glaciers in Nepal

Glaciers are the jewel of Nepal. Glaciers are the finest indicator of climate change. There are 3,252 glaciers in Nepal covering a total area of 5,323 km2. An increase in temperature as an effect of climate change has caused its direct effect on these glaciers. An outburst of glacial lakes impacts directly the socio-economic, agricultural and health status of the people living there. The temperature rises each year have kept the existence of glaciers in threat.

Reasons behind brisked up climate change and melting glaciers

The greenhouse effect is the main reason for climate change and all the changes seen nowadays. Some gases in the Earth’s atmosphere traps the heat coming from the sun and stops the heat from leaking back into space. Which results in global warming. This global warming is giving its impact on an increase in temperature each year. To be straightforward, human activities are the main reason behind climate change and the vigorous melting of glaciers. So, what sets of activities are making such impacts?

  1. Continuous use of Fossil
  2. Rapid deforestation
  3. Intensive agriculture and livestock
  4. Adverse use of nitrogen-containing fertilizer
  5. Fluorinated gases  

The massive use of fossil fuels such as coal, oils, gas to generate electricity, operate vehicles, run industry, power manufacturing and other numerous activities have increased carbon dioxide generation in huge amount. An increase in the amount of carbon dioxide generation affects the atmosphere adversely.
Each year, five and a half billion tons of carbon is released by burning fossil fuels. This released carbon enters the atmosphere and forms carbon dioxide. From this massive amount, 3.3 billion stays in the atmosphere.  
An increase in intensive agriculture and livestock plays an active role in the production of methane gas. This methane gas is an even more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
Rapid deforestation affected the whole ecosystem. Trees used to utilize the atmospheric carbon dioxide and maintain the atmosphere. With an increase in deforestation, atmospheric carbon dioxide remained in the atmosphere. This has impacted directly on increasing greenhouse effect.
Nitrogen-containing fertilizers generate nitrous oxide in the atmosphere. Gases like nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide accumulate in the atmosphere over decades to centuries. Fluorinated gases have much stronger warming effects about 23,000 times higher than carbon dioxide. Such gases are emitted from types of equipment and products that use these gases.

So, Human activity is, directly or indirectly, affecting nature. Climate change is not only an issue. Instead, it is a threat to the whole existence of human life. Climate change has something like democratic similarity, “Of the human, by the human, for the human”. And this climate change has created a huge effect on Himalayan glaciers. This is going to be huge in near future. So, if no today then when, if not us then whom. We, humans, are responsible for the act. We human must work on controlling the condition. If we start today, might be the temperature rise not be as much as it was assumed to be. Might be we could conserve our jewels as original for a longer period than it was assumed to exist. We must understand, our existence is possible only if nature exists.


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