Inevitable has happened. Rather it has been confirmed. A first-of-its-kind study which used satellite data has established the melting of the glaciers at a significant the rate in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh.
The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, says it used satellite data to find that over 1,200 glaciers in the Himalayan region saw an annual reduction in mass of 35 centimetres (cm) on average between 2000 and 2012.
Disturbingly, the glaciers in the Pir Panjal range are melting at a higher rate—more than one metre per year—while as the glaciers in the Karakoram range are melting relatively at a slower rate, around 10 cms per year.
In other mountain ranges like the Greater Himalayan range, Zanaskar range, Shamabari range, Leh ranges, the glaciers are melting but the rate of melting is variable as per the research.
The continued melting of glaciers as per the experts will have “significant adverse” impacts on every sector of the economy in the region and beyond, particularly in the downstream areas which are already water scarce.
Besides retreating glaciers, water scarcity and changes in traditional agricultural patterns are already having an adverse impact on this fragile ecology.
The researchers say that the glacial melt in the Himalayan region are due to increasing temperatures and decreasing snow precipitation, resulting from greenhouse gas emissions from industrialisation and increasing use of fossil fuels the world over.
The impact of climate change is bound to severely impact rare birds and animals apart from human beings. For example, few lakes in Ladakh region offer the only breeding grounds for the Black-necked Crane in this part of the globe and key species found in the region include the snow leopard, Tibetan Gazelle, Tibetan Antelope, Musk Deer and Hangul. Highly endangered medicinal plants also grow in the area.
There is a huge concern about the melting glaciers, and lack of water. Even livestock rearing is reducing now.
The scientists have time and again pointed to human activity as the major cause of climate change.
The atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide have increased immensely, more so in last few decades.
What can a commoner do? Perhaps drive less! In reality, that’s a drop in the bucket. However, people can persuade governments and corporations to ramp up their efforts as a consequence significant change can happen.
Also, local and global links need to be forged to address climate change if regions are to be rescued from their vulnerability.