Most of the glaciers in the Mount Everest region will disappear or drastically retreat as temperatures increase with climate change over the next century, according to a group of international researchers.

The estimated 5,500 glaciers in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan (HKH) region – site of Mount Everest and many of the world’s tallest peaks – could reduce their volume by 70%-99% by 2100, with dire consequences for farming and hydropower generation downstream, they said.

“The signal of future glacier change in the region is clear: continued and possibly accelerated mass loss from glaciers is likely, given the projected increase in temperatures,” said Joseph Shea, a glacier hydrologist at the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development in Nepal, and leader of the study published in The Cryosphere, the journal of the European Geosciences Union (EGU).

The team studied glaciers in the Dudh Kosi basin in the Nepal Himalaya, which is home to some of the world’s highest mountain peaks, including Mount Everest , and to over 400 sq km of glacier area.

They concluded that the lower glaciers will melt fastest because the freezing level – the elevation where mean monthly temperatures are 0C – will rise higher up the mountains as air temperatures rise.

“The freezing level currently varies between 3,200 metres in January and 5,500 metres in August. Based on historical temperature measurements and projected warming to the year 2100, this could increase by 800–1,200 meters,” said study co-author Walter Immerzeel of Utrecht University in the Netherlands.

“Such an increase would not only reduce snow accumulations over the glaciers, but would also expose over 90% of the current glacierised area to melt in the warmer months,” said the authors.

Courtesy: theguardian