The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Himalayan Glacier Melt Has Doubled Since 2000, Satellites Show
The researchers assembled the most detailed look to date at the last 40 years of Himalayan ice loss to date, combining contemporary satellite information with data from declassified U.S. spy satellites. They found that average ice-loss per year had doubled between the periods 1975 to 2000 and 2000 to 2016, and that the glaciers had lost more than 25 percent of their ice in the study period, The Guardian reported.
"This is the clearest picture yet of how fast Himalayan glaciers are melting since 1975, and why," research leader Joshua Maurer of Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth observatory told The Guardian.
Melting since 2000 has been especially dramatic, The New York Times reported. The glaciers lost a foot and a half of ice every year since then, and have lost a total of eight billion tons of water each year recently, the equivalent of 3.2 million Olympic size swimming pools. Most of this melting was caused by the climate crisis. While researchers said some ice lost was due to soot from the burning of fossil fuels, most was due to warmer temperatures, which rose by higher rates on average between 2000 and 2016 across the more than 1,200 mile range.
Study co-author Joerg Schaefer, as at Columbia, told CNN that unless we act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and cool the planet, we would see a "pretty devastating scenario for Himalayan glaciers."
University of Leeds glaciology specialist Duncan Quincey, who was not involved in the research, explained why.
"In the short-term, such rapid melt rates will mean summer floods become more frequent as river discharge is increased, but the long-term prospect is one of drought as the glacier reservoir becomes depleted," he told CNN.
Around 800 million people across Asia now rely on Himalayan glaciers for energy, agriculture and drinking water. But this study is part of a growing body of evidence showing how much climate change threatens these glaciers, and the communities they support. A February study found that even if world leaders managed to limit global temperature increase to the Paris agreement goal of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, one third of the ice in the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) region would still melt by 2100. If temperatures hit two degrees, half of the ice would melt, and if temperatures rose to four or five degrees Celsius, two thirds would disappear.
University College London climate science Prof. Chris Rapley, who was not involved in the study, said ice loss was "already undermining the viability of small communities in the Himalayas as they suffer ever more serious water shortages." If it continued, it would displace a significant number of people.
"Better for all of us to accelerate to net zero as a matter of the highest priority," he told CNN.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Nestlé cannot claim that its Ice Mountain bottled water brand is an essential public service, according to Michigan's second highest court, which delivered a legal blow to the food and beverage giant in a unanimous decision.
A number of supermarkets across the country have voluntarily issued a recall on sushi, salads and spring rolls distributed by Fuji Food Products due to a possible listeria contamination, as CBS News reported.
If you read a lot of news about the climate crisis, you probably have encountered lots of numbers: We can save hundreds of millions of people from poverty by 2050 by limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, but policies currently in place put us on track for a more than three degree increase; sea levels could rise three feet by 2100 if emissions aren't reduced.
Poverty and violence in Central America are major factors driving migration to the United States. But there's another force that's often overlooked: climate change.
Retired Lt. Cmdr. Oliver Leighton Barrett is with the Center for Climate and Security. He says that in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, crime and poor economic conditions have long led to instability.
"And when you combine that with protracted drought," he says, "it's just a stressor that makes everything worse."
Barrett says that with crops failing, many people have fled their homes.
"These folks are leaving not because they're opportunists," he says, "but because they are in survival mode. You have people that are legitimate refugees."
So Barrett supports allocating foreign aid to programs that help people in drought-ridden areas adapt to climate change.
"There are nonprofits that are operating in those countries that have great ideas in terms of teaching farmers to use the land better, to harvest water better, to use different variety of crops that are more resilient to drought conditions," he says. "Those are the kinds of programs I think are needed."
So he says the best way to reduce the number of climate change migrants is to help people thrive in their home countries.
Reporting credit: Deborah Jian Lee / ChavoBart Digital Media.
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.
- Trump Admin Ignored Its Own Data Linking Migrant Crisis to Climate ... ›
- How Climate Change Is Driving Emigration From Central America ... ›
Chris Pratt was called out on social media by Game of Thrones star Jason Momoa after Pratt posted an image "low key flexing" with a single-use plastic water bottle.