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Glaciers Melt in the Himalayas

Posted June. 08, 2002 21:52,   


Glaciers near the world`s highest mountain Everest, which is 8848 meters above sea level, have retreated by 5 km compared to 50 years ago due to global warming, said the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on World Environment Day on June 5. "We confirmed that global warming poses the biggest threat to the Himalayas", said Roger Payne, the director of the International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation (UIAA) in a press conference on June 5 after the 15-day expedition of the Himalayas. He added that melted water can trigger floods, sending rubbles and mud down the valley. The world population, which depends on rivers originating from the Himalayas, numbers about 2 billion. Given the fact, the change in the area can have impacts on one third of the world population. Mr. Payne said, "After visiting Island Peak, which is 6189 meters above sea level, we found that small ponds, which had existed near the peak, have merged into a big lake, which is 100m deep and 2km long because of melting glaciers". He added that there was an incidence when melting glaciers in a village near the Himalayas, triggered floods, washing away bridges. According to residents there, floods are becoming more frequent since 8 to 9 years ago. Some residents fear that floods might blanket the whole village. Scientists at the UNEP, along with the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development based in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, conducted a research of 44 glacial lakes in Nepal and Bhutan, using satellite. The UNEP found that due to global warming, lakes could burst their banks in 5 years. The UNEP added that because of mountaineers at the Himalayas, recording an annual number of 27,000, wildlife is dwindling and the vegetation of the area is changing such as increasing erosion. The UNEP warned that the April temperatures in Nepal and Bhutan have risen by about 1 degree Centigrade compared to mid-70s and about 50 lakes near the Himalayas can overflow in 10 years, washing away a village down the mountain.