Climate and social justice

Researchers from the University of Leeds (UK) have warned that the exceptional melting of Himalayan glaciers is threatening the water supply of millions of people in Asia.

In a new study published in the journal Scientific Reports, researchers have shown that in recent decades the Himalayan ice sheets have lost ice ten times faster than the average rate since their last major expansion during the Little Ice Age between 400 and 700 years ago. The loss in volume, from 596 cubic kilometres to just 309 cubic kilometres, is equivalent to all the ice in the Alps, Caucasus, and Scandinavia combined.

Jonathan Carrivick, Professor in the School of Geography at the University of Leeds, said “our findings clearly show that ice is now being lost from Himalayan glaciers at a rate that is at least 10 times higher than the average rate over past centuries. This acceleration in the rate of loss has only emerged within the last few decades and coincides with human-induced climate change.”

The Himalayas, which stretch for 3,500 km through eight countries, are often referred to by scientists as the “third pole” for their huge ice reserves.