Himalayan glaciers feared to be swelling dangerously due to global warming

June 24th, 2009 - 1:34 pm ICT by ANI  

London, June 24 (ANI): Scientists in Nepal have embarked on the first field studies of Himalayan glacial lakes, some of which are feared to be swelling dangerously due to global warming.

In May, they completed the field visit to the first location, a lake in the Everest region, in a series of studies.

According to a report by BBC News, they plan to conduct similar surveys of two other glacial lakes in the central and western part of the Nepalese Himalayas later in the year.

“We have started with Nepal, but we intend to extend studies to other Hindu Kush Himalayan countries,” said Arun Bhakta Shrestha, a climate change specialist with the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), which is carrying out the research alongside a number of government agencies.

“This is a part of our regional assessment of the floods such lakes can cause if they burst,” he added.

The Hindu Kush Himalayan region stretches between Burma in the east to Afghanistan in the west, showcasing spectacular snow-clad mountains, some of which are the world’s highest.

Having returned from their first field visit, the scientists are now grappling with the data they collected on the body of water, known as Imja lake.

Sharing his initial observations, Pradeep Mool, a remote sensing specialist with the ICIMOD, said there was an air of change in and around Lake Imja.

“The area of the lake has become bigger and there are some changes in its end moraines (accumulations of debris),” he said. “But, I would not call it alarming,” he added.

While scientists are cautious when speaking about the changes, mountaineers have been more vocal.

There is talk among Sherpa climbers about what they say is fast glacial retreat and snow meltdown in the Himalayas.

Appa Sherpa, who has climbed Everest a record number of times said recently that he had seen fresh water at the height of above 8,000m on Everest.

“I was shocked to see fresh water at that altitude, where I had seen nothing but snow and ice before,” he said on his return last month from his 19th climb to the highest peak.

There are around 3,300 glaciers in the Nepalese Himalayas and nearly 2,300 of them contain glacial lakes. No one knows which of these are reaching breaching point.

But, these new field studies, starting with Imja, Thulagi and Tsho Rolpa glacial lakes, should begin to answer these important questions. (ANI)

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