Scientists have described the Himalayan glaciers as highly sensitive to climate change. They said that glaciers are shrinking rapidly due to global warming. The ecosystem services these glaciers provide are very crucial. But the melting of glaciers poses a threat to over 2.4 million people and other creatures. A 2019 report by an Indian government panel on Climate Change had forecasted the science behind the current unfolding in the Himalayas. The report said that glaciers will retreat in the coming years. There will be massive landslides, flash floods, and deluge. The report assumes significance as a glacier burst incident in the Indian state of Uttarakhand caused massive destructions to human lives and infrastructure.
Several past studies have claimed that there is a connection between the disaster and harm to ecosystems. Although there is still some confusion as to what triggered the disaster in Uttarakhand, the incident of glacier burst is seen as a result of rising temperature due to human interference with the ecosystem. The Himalayan glaciers are very important for the population in South Asia. It is one of the major sources of drinking water. Besides, agriculture activities largely depend on these glaciers. According to an assessment, glaciers in eastern Himalaya are shrinking fast. Glaciers in central and western regions are also shrinking but slower than in the eastern region.
The Energy and Resources Institute in its 2019 discussion paper had sounded an alarm about the rising temperature. It said that the upper reaches are warming very fast. This is causing glaciers to meltdown rapidly. It said that the warming rate will increase in the Himalayan region by 0.5 degrees to one degree Celsius by the 2020s. It said that temperature could increase one to three degrees by 2050. The Himalayan states are vulnerable to landslides and flash floods. The recent disaster has raised questions over the measures taken by the world to fight climate change and prevent global warming from becoming worse. Under the Paris pact, 195 countries have vowed to cut the carbon emission to keep the rise in global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius.