Almost 10 percent of the Bhutanese glaciers is feared to vanish in the next few decades, which would result in depletion of water resources, the main backbone of Bhutanese econmy besides agriculture
10% of country’s glaciers could vanish
Besides that the amount of melt water coming off Bhutanese glaciers could drop by 30 percent
Geophysical Research Letters: Depletion in, what is, the nation’s gushing resource today, would be the most likely scenario it could expect in not so distant future.
This was based on the findings of Brigham Young University’s professor, Summer Rupper, in her publication, Geophysical Research letters.
The findings indicated that the amount of melt water coming off Bhutanese glaciers could drop by 30 percent.
Her findings also indicated that almost 10 percent of Bhutan’s glaciers would vanish in the next few years, which local glacial researchers said would result in severe water resource depletion in the country in future.
“There would be reduction in water resources and our water-related agencies should plan in accordance with that,” hydro-met services director Karma Tshering said. “We will also have to look out for adaptation measures.”
Karma Tshering, who did the study in collaboration with the university said the study conducted on how the glaciers in Bhutanese Himalayas were responding to climate change indicated that snow and glacial melts not only occur because of rise in temperature but there are other climatic factors.
Wind, humidity, precipitation and evaporation were among the list.
He said the result of the study conducted through glacier mass balance model was close to realistic.
Mass balance, he explained, was an annual basis of study on how much ice was lost because of melt and how much was gained because of snow.
“Snowfall rates in Bhutan would have to be almost doubled to avoid glacier retreat,” he said. “But that is impossible.”
The findings also state that glaciers of Bhutan Himalayas would continue to shrink even if the climate remained steady.
A news release from Brigham Young University stated that instead of doubling the snowfall rate, warmer temperatures led to rainfall.
“If glaciers continue to lose more water than gained, the combination of more rain and more glacial melt increases the probability of flooding — which can be devastating to neighboring villages,” it stated.
Karma Tshering said professor Rupper’s research also indicated that in the long run if there was a rise of temperature by one degree Celsius, Bhutanese glaciers would shrink by 25 percent and the annual melt water would drop by as much as 65 percent.
He said the study helped Bhutan in terms of finding out what sort of glacier mass balance were in effect in Bhutan Himalayas, how much rivers and streams were fed by glaciers and whether there would be problems in water resources in future.
By Tashi Dema