Warming of Qinghai Tibet Plateau bad news for India

Warming of Qinghai Tibet Plateau bad news for India

Qinghai Tibet Plateau"The Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is among the regions worst hit by global warming," said Qin Dahe of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).

"Due to global warming, glaciers on the Qinghai Tibet Plateau are retreating extensively at a speed faster than in any other part of the world," Qin said.

The Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is the world's third-largest store of ice. So far, 82 per cent of glacier surfaces on the plateau have retreated and the glacier area itself has decreased by 4.5 per cent during the past 20 years.

"In the short term, this will cause lakes to expand and bring floods and mudflows," leading to a deleterious effect on the global climate and also on the livelihood of Asian people, Qin was quoted as saying by state-run 'China Daily.'

If the vegetation on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau decreases, "consequent absorption of solar radiation will change the intensity of summer monsoons in Asia. This will bring drought to north India and intensify floods in southern China and droughts in the north", he said.

"In the long run, glaciers are vital lifelines for Asian rivers, including the Indus and the Ganges.

Once they vanish, water supplies in those regions will be in peril," Qin said.

Qin, the former head of the China Meteorological Administration (CMA), said the temperature in Tibet rose by an average of 0.32 degrees Celsius every 10 years between 1961 and 2008, much faster than the average across China, where temperatures rose by between 0.05 and 0.08 degrees.

Tibet's average temperature in July was the highest since 1951. During the same month, there was between 30 and 80 per cent less rain in western and southern Tibet than in the same month in previous years, according to CMA data.

Yao Tandong, one of China's leading glacier experts and director of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau Research Institute of CAS, echoed Qin's view, adding that glaciers were accurate archives of climate changes. "Glaciers on the plateau show warming has been abrupt and exceptional. It is warmer now than at any time during the past 2,000 years," he said.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a UN body studying global warming, predicted in May that Himalayan glaciers, including the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, could vanish within three decades at the present rate of warming.

At the same time, Qin said there were also benefits associated with warming on the plateau.

"Warming is good for agriculture and tourism. It has increased the growing season of crops," Qin said.

As the world's highest and most complex mountain range, the Himalayas stretch across six countries, including China, India and Nepal. Several major rivers in Asia, including the Yangtze, begin there, and their combined drainage basin is home to more than 2.7 billion people, Qin said.

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