You’ve heard about melting ice caps in the North Pole and doomed King Penguins in the South Pole, but what about the impact of climate change on the “Third Pole”?
A 600-page report released this month by more than 200 leading scientists from around the world is the first to reveal rising global temperatures are on course to melt the massive stretch of ice nestled in the soaring peaks of the vast Hindu Kush Himalayan region.
Comprised of 12 mountain ranges spread across eight countries (Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, China, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar), this rocky corner of the world is home to 250 million people and the world’s third-largest stretch of ice, earning the “Third Pole” moniker.
But despite this vastness and iciness, very little is known about how it would fare in a rapidly warming world. In contrast, much more is documented about another climate hot spot: the sinking islands of the Pacific, home to 2.3 million people.
The Nepal-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) tapped into their singular regional expertise and global network of experts to fill this knowledge gap.
The result is the first report of its kind to offer thorough scientific insight into the region’s people, environment and economy.
But it’s the climate findings that stand out.
According to the report, at least one-third and at the most two-thirds of the ice capping on K2, Mount Everest and other famed peaks in the rocky region will be gone by 2100 due to spiking global temperatures.
This epic ice melt would spell disaster for the 250 million mountain-dwellers, and another 1.65 billion (about one-fourth of humanity) who benefit from the water that flows from the glaciers to 10 river basins snaking the valleys below. The melting glaciers will flood farmlands, threatening food sources.
We partnered with ICIMOD to promote their alarming findings among international media. The story went viral; coverage appeared in major outlets and wires worldwide, as well as small, local news sources throughout the world, but especially the eight countries of the Hindu Kush Himalaya region.
We hope this coverage doesn’t keep people up at night, but we do hope regional and global leaders with the power to both curtail and prepare for rising global temperatures take note.