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The melting of Himalayan glaciers has doubled since 2000

The end of the Gangotri glacier (Photo: Atarax42)The end of the Gangotri glacier (Photo: Atarax42)A new study has shown that 8 billion tonnes of ice—the equivalent of 3.2 million Olympic-size swimming pools—is melting each year in the Himalaya Mountains, and is not being replaced by snow. More than a quarter of all ice has been lost from Himalayan glaciers since 1975, with the rate of melting doubling since 2000. The losses will have devastating consequences in coming decades: a billion people living in India, Pakistan, China and other nations depend on water from rivers rising in the Himalayas. They include the Indus, the Yangtze and the Ganges-Brahmaputra.

Lakes forming on receding Himalayan glaciers (NASA)Lakes forming on receding Himalayan glaciers (NASA)Scientists compared US spy satellite images from the mid-1970s with modern satellite imagery to create the first detailed, long-term record of ice in the Himalaya mountain chain. They tracked the changes in 650 Himalayan glaciers. On average, the glacier surfaces sank by 22 centimetres (8.6 inches) a year from 1975 to 2000. The melting then accelerated, with an average loss of 43 centimetres a year from 2000 to 2016.

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