ICIMOD presses glacial meltdown button

Kathmandu, September 30:

Many glaciers in the Himalayan region are retreating at a fast pace, posing chances of glacial floods along the lower basins thanks to global warming.

According to a recent study, carried out by International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Himalayan glaciers are storing about 3,827 cu km of freshwater and the high rate of ice melting could lead to rapid accumulation of water in glacial lakes which can burst at any time, sweeping away lives and physical infrastructure in the lower catchment areas.

Dr Mats Eriksson, senior water specialist, ICIMOD, said the high rate of ice melting posed twin major threats — reduction of water storage and outburst of glacial lakes.

“There are nine glacial lakes in Tibetan side, whose outburst can cause grave destruction in Nepali,” he warned.

He also said that the Himalayas were witnessing changes because of global warming caused by human activities.

ICIMOD has recorded 200 potentially dangerous glacial lakes in the Himalayan region. Of these, 20 are located in Nepal.

Pradip Mool, remote sensing specialist, ICIMOD, said that glaciers in the Himalayas were retreating at the rate of 10-15m every year. He also said that many small glaciers had already


“The threat of these lakes will remain unknown because their outburst can be triggered any time by avalanches, landslides and earthquakes,” Dr Eriksson said.