Nature Climate Change, 19 May 2022

Rising temperatures will accelerate glacier ice loss in the Hindu Kush Himalaya, disrupting previously reliable freshwater resources for millions. The Himalayan mountains experience the impacts of climate change more intensely than most other regions of the world, due in part to their high altitude. The glaciers in these mountains supply seasonally-important freshwater to major rivers across South Asia, including the Indus, Ganges, and Yangtze that support billions of people in the lowlands downstream. Glacial meltwater, naturally supplied groundwater, and rainfall allow farmers downstream to reliably irrigate their crops. As global temperatures rise, the pressure on different water sources will increase; and the retreat of glaciers in the Hindu Kush Himalaya will play an important role in determining the scale of future water shortages. Authors underscore the importance of curbing emissions to limit future warming, slow ice loss, and help give local communities the time to adapt to changing water resources.