'Himalayan glaciers shrunk by fifth in 30 yrs'
Kathmandu: Glaciers in the Himalayas have
shrunk by as much as a fifth in the last 30 years, scientists
have claimed in the first authoritative confirmation of the
impact of climate change on the region.
The findings of reports published by the International
Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD)
headquartered in Kathmandu, show Nepal's glaciers have shrunk
by 21 per cent and Bhutan's by 22 per cent over 30 years.
"These reports provide a new baseline and location-
specific information for understanding climate change in one
of the most vulnerable ecosystems in the world," Rajendra
Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
A three-year Sweden-funded research project led by
ICIMOD showed 10 glaciers surveyed in the region all are
shrinking, with a significant loss of ice between 2002 and
The reports, launched by ICIMOD on Sunday at the UN
climate talks in Durban, South Africa, form the most
comprehensive ever assessment of the extent of melting
The reports follow a claims made by scientists in 2007
that the region's glaciers would be gone by 2035.
The study also found a significant reduction in snow
cover across the region in the last decade.
The effects of climate change could be devastating, as
the Himalayan region provides food and energy for 1.3 billion
people living in downstream river basins, warn scientists.
"The Hindu Kush-Himalayan region is like a gentle
giant. While physically imposing, it is one of the most
ecologically sensitive areas in the world," said David Molden,
director general at ICIMOD.
"Up until now, there has been complete uncertainty on
the numbers and area of glaciers and the present status of
their environmental conditions in the region, said Basanta
Shrestha from ICIMOD.