Water, ice, society, and ecosystems in the Hindu Kush Himalaya: an outlook

Glaciers in Asia’s Hindu Kush Himalaya could lose up to 75% of their volume by century’s end due to global warming, causing both dangerous flooding and water shortages for the 240 million people who live in the mountainous region, according to this report by the ICIMOD.

The Water, ice, society, and ecosystems in the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HI-WISE) report draws on recent scientific advances to map for the first time the links between the cryosphere, water, biodiversity, and society in the region, charting the impacts of rapid changes in glaciers and snow on people and nature. Based on an assessment of the literature, this peer-reviewed report shows that the HKH cryosphere is undergoing unprecedented and largely irreversible changes over human timescales, primarily driven by climate change. The impacts are becoming increasingly clear, with increased warming at higher elevations, the accelerated melting of glaciers, increasing permafrost thaw, declining snow cover, and more erratic snowfall patterns. The report also provides recommendations for policymakers on addressing the cascading impacts of climate change in the critical mountain biome, which will affect a quarter of the world’s population.