Meltdown of Glaciers in Pakistan

By Saba Pari Daud

Glaciers are made up of fallen snow that, over many years, compresses into large, thickened ice masses. Glaciers form when snow remains in one location long enough to transform into ice. Due to sheer mass, glaciers flow like very slow rivers.

Presently, 10% of land area on Earth is covered with glacial ice whereas glaciers store about 75% of the world's fresh water.

The lack of awareness about the concept of climate change and its implications is causing lack of policy initiative and public interest.

A recent report by the World Bank warned that Pakistan is confronting five major risks associated with climate change: a rise in sea level, glacial melting, floods, higher than average temperature and a higher frequency of droughts.

Glaciers of Pakistan are melting at a furious pace as compared to remaining world, according to the reports by BBC.

Rising temperatures, black carbon and a stronger monsoon are impelling glacier melt. As a result, the volume of water in the rivers is increasing, thus causing floods.

Prof. M. Iqbal Khan (glaciologist) has articulated “the main cause of recent floods is melting of glaciers, which are melting at a faster speed and rains could not be held responsible for recent floods solely.” Floods in the recent past has caused the loss of nearly 1700 lives and $15 billion.

It is anticipated that 4/5th of all Himalayan glaciers are expected to melt very soon which will bring down the river water levels and affect the lives of about 500 million people.

Over 50% of frozen water resources have been lost and it has been warned that there would be severe water scarcity in coming years as the Indus River is dependent on the glacial melting.

The study by experts showed that the Hinarchi glacier, which had receded 800m between 1977 and 2009, receded another 300m during the next five years. Similarly, the Baulter glacier which had receded 1,500m, shrank another 400m by 2014. The future of the Barpu glacier looks gloomy as it has shrunk 640m since 1977.

A massive lake on the Hinarchi glacier disappeared suddenly in August 2014 as reported by PMD team.

Similarly, a massive lake was discovered at the Liligo glacier in 2013 that didn’t exist in 2010.

Therefore there will be floods in the short-run and there will be droughts in the long-run as the glaciers shrink and provide less water to the rivers. Food shortage is projected in both the circumstances as floods destroy crops while droughts do not allow them to grow.

Published in Young Nation magazine on 29-Aug-2015

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