By Janaki Kremmer
Christian Science Monitor, Jan. 3, 2007
“It’s not enough to just note the fact that the glaciers are melting. The impact of that is not being focused on at all.” — Joseph Thsetan Gergan, WADIA Institute of Himalayan Glaciology
Billions of people in China and the Indian subcontinent rely on South Asia’s Himalayan glaciers – the world’s largest store of fresh water outside the polar ice caps. The massive ice floes feed seven of the world’s greatest Asian rivers in one of the world’s most densely populated regions.
Yet as global climate change slowly melts glaciers from Africa to the Andes, scientists say the glaciers in the Himalayas are retreating at a rate of about 33 to 49 feet each year – faster than in any other part of the world.
In the Himalayas, the Gangotri Glacier, one of India’s largest, is entitled to an even more dubious distinction. Recent studies reveal that the Gangotri, which forms a mass of ice about 18 miles long, is retreating at a rate of more than 100 feet a year. [more]