The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, an intergovernmental organisationfocussed on environmental and social change in Hindu Kush Himalaya. It warned that one-third of the glaciers in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region could disappear by the end of the century — even if the world limits the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C. And if greenhouse gas emissions continue at their current levels, the region could lose as much as two-thirds of its ice.
Seventy per cent of the earth’s surface is water. Of the remaining 30%, 20% is land and 10% is ice. Most of the ice is in the Arctic and the Antarctic, and the rest is scattered around the world in the form of mountain glaciers. The Himalaya-Karakoram-Hindu Kush mountain ranges contain the third-largest deposit of ice and snow in the world.
Glaciers are slow moving ice masses formed over many years of accumulation of snow – the snow that escaped melting and sublimation over the years. Glaciers flow due to stress from their own weight. They abrade rocks on their way and form crevasses. Glaciers form only on land, unlike the much thinner sea ice and lake ice that form on the water surface.
Glaciers store water in the form of ice during the colder seasons and release it during warmer seasons by way of melting. This serves as a water source for humans, animals and vegetation.
Importance of the Hindu Kush-Himalayan glaciers
The Hindu Kush-Himalayan region covers some 3,500 km across Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal and Pakistan. There are about 46,000 glaciers in the region, which provide water resources to around a quarter of the world’s population.
The glaciers feed 10 of the world’s most important river systems, including the Ganges, Indus, Yellow, Mekong and the Irrawaddy.