Glacial melt in Indus raises water concerns | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
close_game
close_game

Glacial melt in Indus raises water concerns

ByJayashree Nandi, New Delhi
Mar 06, 2023 02:59 PM IST

“Climate change projections for the region suggest that contribution from glacier melt water would peak in the middle of this century and then decline. Additionally, water demand for the basin is projected to increase in the future,” said the study published in the latest issue of the peer-reviewed journal.

Increased glacial melt in the Indus river basin due to global warming is likely to raise strategic concerns over the sharing of water in the region, a new research article in the Current Science journal has indicated.

Increased glacial melt in the Indus river basin due to global warming is likely to raise strategic concerns over the sharing of water. (Bloomberg/Representative use)
Increased glacial melt in the Indus river basin due to global warming is likely to raise strategic concerns over the sharing of water. (Bloomberg/Representative use)

“Climate change projections for the region suggest that contribution from glacier melt water would peak in the middle of this century and then decline. Additionally, water demand for the basin is projected to increase in the future,” said the study published in the latest issue of the peer-reviewed journal.

Now catch your favourite game on Crickit. Anytime Anywhere. Find out how

Except for the Upper Indus basin (high mountain ranges of the Hindukush, Karakoram and Himalaya (HKH) all other sub-basins show a substantial rate of glacier mass loss, which can affect future water availability, creating a need for relooking into some of the water-sharing practices in the basin, the paper has concluded.

This is mainly because mass loss in the Upper Indus basin is low and glacier stored water is high, indicating longer sustainability of glacier melt water compared to other sub-basins in the Himalayas posing new strategic concerns, the paper said.

“This large-scale loss in glacier mass will alter the state of water security for high-altitude mountain communities and people living downstream in the plains, thereby highlighting the urgency to mitigate and adapt to the ongoing climate change,” said researchers at the Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani, Goa campus; DST Centre for Excellence in Climate Change at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bengaluru; and the Space Applications Centre of the Indian Space Research Organisation in Ahmedabad.

The impact of climate change is not uniform across the transboundary river basin, which is of strategic importance to India, Pakistan, China and Afghanistan, covering an area of around 1 million sq km and supporting a population over of 268 million people, according to the study.

Glaciers act as buffers by providing meltwater supply during summer, especially in drought years. The contribution of snow and glacier melt to the total annual discharge of the rivers in the Indus basin is about 62%, the study said. The entire basin is consistently losing glacier mass, but at different rates, it said.

Even if global warming is kept to 1.5 degree Celsius, as envisioned in the 2015 Paris Agreement, warming in the Hindu Kush Himalaya will be slightly higher, as will be the amount of monsoon rainfall, the scientists said. This would alter the water dynamics of the region, it said.

India and Pakistan in 1960 signed an Indus water treaty for equitable distribution of water resources. The treaty allocates the western rivers (Indus, Jhelum and Chenab) to Pakistan and the eastern rivers (Ravi, Beas and Sutlej) to India. It allows each country certain uses on the rivers allocated to the other, according to the World Bank.

On January 25, India informed Pakistan of its intent to renegotiate the 62-year-old treaty brokered by the multilateral bank for the management of cross-border rivers because the Pakistani side’s “intransigence” in handling disputes had raised questions about the integrity of the pact, HT reported on February 3.

The current impasse is mainly triggered by World Bank’s decision to both appoint a neutral expert at India’s request and to go ahead with a court of arbitration at the urging of Pakistan to handle the dispute related to Kishanganga and Ratle hydropower projects in Jammu and Kashmir.

“When the Indus treaty was signed, glacial melt or run off was not a major concern, But now the realities have changed considerably in view of the climate crisis,” said glaciologist Anil Kulkarni, visiting scientist at the Divecha Center for Climate Change in IISc. “These new challenges need to be dealt with very soon because we are expecting water availability to start declining from mid-century. The implications will be on strategic relations.”

Get World Cup ready with Crickit! From live scores to match stats, catch all the action here. Explore now!

See more

Get Current Updates on India News, Budget 2024, Weather Today along with Latest News and Top Headlines from India and around the world.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
SHARE
Story Saved
Live Score
OPEN APP
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Thursday, June 20, 2024
Start 14 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Follow Us On