Global warming is going to change the Mount Everest dramatically by the end of this century. According to a new study published in The Cryosphere, up to 99% of glaciers around the Everest could disappear by the year 2100 if greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current pace. Joseph Shea of the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development in Nepal and lead author of the study said that he did not expect to “see glaciers reduced at such a large scale.”
Rising temperatures a threat to Everest glaciers
Even a moderate reduction in carbon emission from current levels would lead to at least 70% loss of glaciers around the Everest. Mount Everest is the world’s tallest mountain at 29,029 feet, located in the Himalaya mountains on the borders of Nepal and China. Temperatures in the region never go above freezing point, so it is covered with snow and ice all year long.
But all the snow and ice could melt away due to rising global temperatures. Dr Shea and his colleagues arrived at the conclusion after studying glacier melt, accumulation and redistribution using computer simulations. Besides temperature, precipitation, and remote sensing observations, the study also took into account how much mass Everest glaciers gain from snowfall. Scientists also considered the way this mass is redistributed.
Everest could lose a majority of its environment
And then they applied computer simulations to eight different climate change scenarios – from absolutely no reduction in carbon emissions to moderate reductions. The results were alarming in all the scenarios. Even in the best case scenario (moderate reduction in emissions), about 70% of glaciers will disappear. It could lead to catastrophic events in the region.
The Himalaya region has more ice on Earth than any other region except the two poles. Melting of glaciers could cause major floods, agriculture changes, and river flow changes. Researchers estimate some rivers’ flow could increase by as much as 100 times. Mount Everest could also lose much of its current environment due to global warming.