Study: Asia’s glaciers face massive melt from global warming

1 / 2
In this May 20, 2015 file photo, a Kashmiri nomad tends to his herd of sheep and goats as he crosses a glacier near Dubgan, 70 kilometers (43 miles) south of Srinagar, India. Scientists say a third of the ice stored in Asia's glaciers will be lost by the end of the century even if global warming stays below 1.5 degrees Celsius. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin)
2 / 2
In this Feb. 22, 2016 file photo, international trekkers pass through a glacier at the Mount Everest base camp, Nepal. Scientists say a third of the ice stored in Asia's glaciers will be lost by the end of the century even if global warming stays below 1.5 degrees Celsius. (AP Photo/Tashi Sherpa, file)
Updated 13 September 2017
0

Study: Asia’s glaciers face massive melt from global warming

BERLIN: Scientists say one-third of the ice stored in Asia’s glaciers will be lost by the end of the century even if the world manages to meet its ambitious goal of keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, affecting water supplies for millions of people on the continent.
In a paper published Wednesday in the journal Nature, researchers in the Netherlands also examined what would happen if average global temperatures rise beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century. They concluded that almost two-thirds of the ice in Asia’s glaciers could vanish, if no effort is made to curb climate change.
“In regions where glacier melt water is an important part of the river flow, the retreating glaciers can become a problem,” Philip Kraaijenbrink, a University of Utrecht geographer who led the study, said.
“There are many people living in basins that have their rivers originating in Asia’s high mountains, such as the Indus, Ganges and Brahmaputra,” Kraaijenbrink said. “In these basins, the river water is used for irrigation of cropland, drinking water and for hydropower dams.”
The 1.5-degree target was set at the international climate conference in Paris two years ago, but experts say it would require a massive shift to the world economy.
In total, the researchers compared 110 climate simulations and found that high mountain glaciers in Asia tended to experience greater levels of warming than the global average. All glaciers analyzed already are losing mass except those in the Kunlun Mountains of western China.
Taking into account the effect on melting levels of rubble covering some of the glaciers, they concluded that the amount of ice lost from Asian glaciers is almost proportional to the amount of warming they experience, though with some regional variations.
“Even if temperatures stabilize at their current level, mass loss will continue for decades to come until a new equilibrium is reached,” the researchers said.
Kraaijenbrink acknowledged that a scenario in which global warming remains under 1.5 degrees Celsius is optimistic.
“We are aware that more extreme, business-as-usual scenarios are possibly a more likely future,” he said.
In a comment published along with the study, J. Graham Cogley of Trent University in Canada said the researchers’ glacier model “has some innovative features that might raise eyebrows among glaciologists, but it is difficult to find fault with it as a pioneering effort.”
“The authors have shown that achieving the 1.5 Celsius target will conserve a substantial fraction of Asia’s water resources and that, if we fail in this regard, we will pay in direct proportion to the extent of the failure,” Cogley said.


Britain condemns Israel bias at UN rights council

Updated 15 min 51 sec ago
0

Britain condemns Israel bias at UN rights council

  • British foreign secretary Boris Johnson criticized the council’s controversial Agenda Item 7, a permanent fixture on the schedule exclusively devoted to discussing rights abuses in the Palestinian Territories.
  • Johnson noted however that the council had an important role to play in “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict under the right agenda item.”

GENEVA: Britain on Monday urged the UN Human Rights Council to reform its treatment of Israel, joining the United States in demanding an end to the body’s alleged bias against the Jewish State.
Addressing the opening of the 38th council session, British foreign secretary Boris Johnson criticized the council’s controversial Agenda Item 7, a permanent fixture on the schedule exclusively devoted to discussing rights abuses in the Palestinian Territories.
“We share the view that the dedicated Agenda Item 7 focused solely on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories is disproportionate and damaging to the cause of peace, and unless things change we shall vote next year against all resolutions introduced under Item 7,” Johnson said.
Israel is the only country with a dedicated council item.
Washington, some European countries and Australia have sided with Israel in condemning Item 7 as prejudiced, noting that countries with arguably worse rights records in recent years, like Syria are spared such intense scrutiny.
While previous US administrations have criticized Item 7, President Donald Trump’s government has raised the prospect of withdrawing from the council unless it is scrapped.
Johnson noted however that the council had an important role to play in “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict under the right agenda item.”
Each council session includes an agenda item on so-called country specific situations, known as Agenda Item 4, where debates on the crises in Syria, Burundi and others typically take place.