Himalaya, Karakoram and Hindu Kush are the asia’s high mountain ranges and contain the largest volume of freshwater outside of Earth’s / planet’s polar ice sheets, water cycle.
One-seventh of the world’s population depends on rivers flowing from these mountains for water to drink and to irrigate crops. Rapid changes in the region’s climate, however, are affecting glacier melt and snowmelt.
People in the region are already modifying their land-use practices in response to the changing water supply, and the region’s ecology is transforming. Future changes are likely to influence food and water security in India, Pakistan, China and other nations.
NASA is keeping an eye on changes like these worldwide to better understand the future of our planet’s water cycle. NASA’s satellite and other resources can produce substantial benefits to climate science and local decision makers tasked with managing an already-scarce resource.
NASA’s High Mountain Asia Team (HiMAT) did the research. They found that all three of these subject areas are changing, starting with climate. Warming air and alterations in monsoon patterns affect the regional water cycle.
Changes in the water cycle raise or lower the risk of local hazards such as landslides and flooding, and have broad impacts on water allocation and crops that can be grown.
One of the more alarming conclusions is that the glaciers will be 35 to 75% smaller in volume by 2100 due to rapid melting. Not only are all glaciers in the Himalayan Range losing ice, the average rate of ice loss doubled between the first 25 years of satellite data, 1975-2000, and the most recent 16 years, 2000-2016.