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Global Warming May Lead to Catastrophic Floods in the Himalayas

31 Dec 2002

In Nepal, data from 49 surveillance stations show that there has been a distinct temperature increase since the middle of the 1970s, the greatest changes being on the highest summits. When lakes overfill and beaches threaten to break down, this is a result of the global warming that melts the glaciers. The glaciers in Bhutan are observed to decrease by 30 - 40 metres per year, in some years as much as 100 metres. In the village of Tribeni an advanced warning system has been established to warn the 10 000 inhabitants of a potential flood from Lake Tsho Rolpa 108 km upstream. Research from the Himalayas also point to another serious threat. The melting threatens not only human lives, tourism, foot paths, roads, bridges and power stations. Since the mountains are the water towers of the world, filling rivers and lakes with water upon which all life depends, continued shrinking of the world's glaciers as is now observed will cause many rivers and fresh-water systems to dry out. Researchers from the UN UNEP programme and International Center for Integrated Mountain Development have registered at least 44 glacier lakes that are increasing so fast that they may cause outburst floods within five years. Similar investigations are being planned in India, Pakistan and China.

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Status: Completed

Type: Staff Publications

Author: Svein Tveitdal, Åke Bjørke

Year of publication: 2002

Publisher: Teknisk Ukeblad

Place of publication: Norway

Tags: climate change floods Himalaya

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