Sunday, 14 April, 2024

Monitor Glacier Retreat

Climate change has put the world at the receiving end. Man-made factors such as increasing industrialisation, exploitation of the environment, growth of population, and rapid urbanisation are the leading causes of adverse climate impacts that have left adverse impacts on our environment and ecosystems. Climate change, an outcome of environmental degradation, has led to major environmental accidents. The rise in temperature, natural calamities, loss of habitats, and difficulties in availing safe drinking water as well as a threat to life and livelihoods have adversely impacted adversely our lives and threatened the very existence of human beings and animals on this planet.

Countries like Nepal have also withstood the worst of rapidly changing climate throughout the world. The most visible adverse effects of climate change can be witnessed in Nepal's Himalayan region. A simpleton can these days tell you that once thickly blanketed snowy mountains of the Himalayan range often remain naked even on winter days, let alone hot summertime. The Himalayan region is vital for Nepal to maintain the country's environment and ecosystem that sustains not only the myriad of flora and fauna but is vital for the life and livelihoods of the people residing around this region.

A report has shed light on how climate change has led to an alarming rate of glacier retreat here, besides causing an increase in temperature, erratic rainfall and extreme climate events. The International Centre for Integrated Mountains (ICIMOD) and United National Development Fund (UNDP) have revealed that the glaciers are retreating at a rate of 10 to 60 metres per year. Temperature rise is accused of melting glaciers in the high Himalayan region. He said that the average altitude of the equilibrium line (ELA) of glaciers is shifting upward and there is a risk of glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF) events in various parts of the country. The same report stated that from 1977 to 2010, almost 24 per cent of glacier area decreased and 29 per cent of ice reserve decreased in Nepal. There were 1466 glacier lakes in Nepal in 2010 and that increased to 2070 in 2015 due to temperature rise in the Himalayas. The ICIMOD and UNDP study found 3,624 glacial lakes in the Koshi, Gandaki and Karnali basins of Nepal, the TAR of China, and India. Of them, 1,410 lakes are considered large enough to cause damage downstream where the lake breaks. There has been an 86 per cent rise in the number of glacial lakes, which pose a threat to the people living downstream. In the past, the outburst of lakes has caused losses to lives and livelihoods.

Perpetual monitoring of the retreating glaciers appears to be a major step to avoid GLOF events and making the people perpetually aware so as to save lives and property. However, our authority must work towards lowering adverse impacts of climate change in our high Himalayas and other parts of the nation, for which it can cooperate with international agencies and partners working in the climate change sectors. Nepal is a nation that has suffered a lot from climate change which has mostly been caused by the advanced nations. Our nation thus needs to raise its voice at international forums about its suffering and ask the nations to extend their support to it to make it resilient to the ill impacts of climate change.