Threat to Greater Himalayas is real. Melting glaciers, erratic and unpredictable weather conditions, changing rainfall patterns and increasing temperatures are impacting on the people and wildlife of the region. There are many endangered species which are on the verge of extinction if no immediate preservation actions are taken.
According to World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the Himalayan region is one of the world’s most sensitive hotspots to global climate change, with impacts manifesting at a particularly rapid rate. A situation that is predicted to intesify in coming years, with dire and far-reaching impacts on food, water and energy security, as well as biodiversity and species loss. This will not just impact the Himalayan region of Asia but have a cascading effect across the world. The Himalayan glaciers are the water towers of Asia, and the source of many of the world’s great rivers: The Yangtze, the Ganges, the Indus and the Mekong.
Climate change in the Himalayas poses a serious threat to the source of these great rivers with dire and far-reaching impacts on biodiversity, food, water and energy security. Vulnerable nations must therefore move rapidly to build resilience to these impacts and adapt to the changing climate. In India, the existence of River Ganges (Ganga) is at stake due to rapid glacial melt of Gangotri Glacier. River Bhagirathi, the largest tributary of River Ganga, originates from Gangotri Glacier, the largest glacier in Western Himalayas. The river feeds millions of people across India. Reduced water flow from River Bhagirathi will have an adverse impact on agriculture & power generation in the region.
Comparison of Gaumukh: 1984 vs 2015
Glacial melt increases the risk of large volumes of water accumulation in the form of glacial lakes. Due to increased glacial melt, the water in these lakes is increasing rapidly increasing the risk of lake burst which will have catastrophic impact on the lives in the region wiping away the infrastructures. This event was recently seen during Uttarakhand floods in 2013 when the lake in the upper region of Kedarnath burst bringing down tsunami of water, mud & rubble, killing thousands of people and destroying the infrastructure.
Creating environmentally aware and active citizens is crucial for the future environmental development who will have to join hands to preserve Himalayas from disintegration.