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Climate Change Will Melt Vast Parts of Himalayas: Study

The Hindu Kush Himalayan Assessment was put together by more than 200 authors aiming to create a baseline of knowledge to understand the region

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The image was captured at lower Zuluk province. It is a small village in the Himalayas. There are a lot of rows in a row from the mountain. The amazing beauty of nature can be seen. Wikimedia

At least a third of the ice in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region could melt by the end of this century due to climate change, even if there is aggressive action to curb greenhouse gases and meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement,according to a new study.

The study issued on Monday night said that rising temperatures are a serious threat to the eight countries — India, China, Myanmar, Nepal, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan — in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region, CNN reported.

Fresh water from the region’s glaciers flows into 10 major river basins, contributing to the drinking water, irrigation and energy needs of approximately 1.9 billion people, or about a quarter of the world’s population.

“The consequences are pretty extreme. We are concerned, and we are worried,” said one of the study’s authors, Philippus Wester, chief scientist with the Kathmandu-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development.

“Urgent climate action is needed,” he said.

Aesculus indica, Horse Chestnut, Pithoragarh, Himalayas. Wikimedia

Glaciers have been retreating and thinning in the area since the 1970s but there has been an accelerating rate of retreat since then, the study said.

Climate change will also reduce how much food farmers will be able to produce in this part of the world. About 70 per cent of the population of this region are farmers, and there is already great food insecurity there, it added.

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Warmer water temperatures will encourage the growth of invasive species. Extreme floods and droughts may “destroy the food production base of the region”, the study said, adding the rivers that farmers and energy companies rely on, like the Ganges, Yangtze, Mekong and Indus, will also be affected by glacier melt.

The Hindu Kush Himalayan Assessment was put together by more than 200 authors aiming to create a baseline of knowledge to understand the region. (IANS)

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Diversifying Crops will Lighten Growing Climate Impact in India: Study

To reach this conclusion, the authors combined historical data on crop yields, temperature and rainfall

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diversifying crops, climate impact
"Expanding the area planted with these four alternative grains can reduce variations in Indian grain production caused by extreme climate, especially in the many places where their yields are comparable to rice. Wikimedia Commons

Diversifying the crops in India can be an effective way to adapt its food-production systems to the growing influence of extreme climate change, said US researchers including Indian-origin.

The team studied the effects of climate change on five major crops: finger millet, maize, pearl millet, sorghum and rice which make up the vast majority of grain production during the June-to-September monsoon season in India — with rice contributing three-quarters of the grain supply for the season.

Taken together, the five grains are essential for meeting India’s nutritional needs. In a paper published in Environmental Research Letters, Kyle Davis, environmental data scientist from the Data Science Institute at Columbia University found that the yields from grains such as millet, sorghum and maize are more resilient to extreme weather.

Their yields vary significantly less due to year-to-year changes in climate and generally experience smaller declines during droughts. But yields from rice, India’s main crop, experience larger declines during extreme weather conditions.

climate impact, diversifying crops
Their yields vary significantly less due to year-to-year changes in climate and generally experience smaller declines during droughts. Wikimedia Commons

“By relying more and more on a single crop — rice — India’s food supply is potentially vulnerable to the effects of varying climate,” said Davis, the lead author on the paper.

“Expanding the area planted with these four alternative grains can reduce variations in Indian grain production caused by extreme climate, especially in the many places where their yields are comparable to rice.

“Doing so will mean that the food supply for the country’s massive and growing population is less in jeopardy during times of drought or extreme weather,” he noted.

The co-authors on the paper are Ashwini Chhatre, Associate Professor at the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad; Narasimha D. Rao, Assistant Professor at Yale’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies; Deepti Singh, Assistant Professor at Washington State University in Vancouver; and Ruth DeFries, University Professor of Ecology and Sustainable Development at Columbia University.

diversifying crops, climate impact
To reach this conclusion, the authors combined historical data on crop yields, temperature and rainfall. Wikimedia Commons

Temperatures and rainfall amounts in India vary from year-to-year and influence the amount of crops that farmers can produce.

With episodes of extreme climate such as droughts and storms becoming more frequent, it’s essential to find ways to protect India’s crop production from these shocks, according to Davis.

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To reach this conclusion, the authors combined historical data on crop yields, temperature and rainfall. Data on the yields of each crop came from state agricultural ministries across India and covered 46 years (1966-2011) and 593 of India’s 707 districts.

“This study adds to the evidence that increasing the production of alternative grains in India can offer benefits for improving nutrition, for saving water, and for reducing energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture,” said Davis. (IANS)