Water resources for some 1.9 billion people worldwide are being threatened as climate change continues to melt the glaciers in the Himalayas at an alarmingly rapid rate. Scientists bemoan that this is irreversible for one-third of the glaciers, even if present efforts to curb this phenomenon succeed.

According to the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development, via its Hindu Kush Himalaya Assessment report, two-thirds of the area’s glaciers will melt by the year 2100. Its mountain ranges span eight countries, to illustrate how massive its direct hit will be. 

By the said year, the glacier-covered peaks will reveal the rocks underneath and, as scientifically proven, will create sharp changes in the weather and sea levels worldwide, not to mention increase air pollution due to the dust and black carbon previously deposited on the ice and threaten endangered species that thrive in the cold.

The report also said that even if the 2015 Paris Agreement, which aims to cap global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius by century-end, would succeed, the world will still permanently say goodbye to one-third of the region’s ice. If the temperature rises to 2 degrees Celsius (a mere 0.5-degree increase), that would mean the end of two-thirds of the glaciers.

The study highlights the role of the Hindu Kush Himalayan region in the greater global warming issue, NPR noted. This is because not much of anybody’s resources are dedicated to assessing this part of the earth. Temperatures increase faster in areas with high altitudes compared to lower elevations, so those in the lower regions might not feel the impact yet. 

The results could not have come out at a more opportune time. According to NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2018 was the fourth hottest year ever logged in modern history. More alarmingly, 18 of the 19 ‘hottest year’ records were observed only starting 2001. In terms of rainfall, 2018 was the third most wet year since 1985.