Melting glaciers – 05 Aug 2022

The Karakoram glaciers may no longer be stable and lose mass in the future due to increase in temperature

A new research on the ‘Karakoram Anomaly’ has quashed previous claims that the Karakoram region experienced an abnormal growth in glaciers. In contrast, it instead indicates that temperature increase during the past decade has resulted in massive losses of glacial mass.

The head of the research study, Dr Shaukaat Ali, has explicitly warned, “The Karakoram glaciers may no longer be stable and lose mass in the future due to increase in temperature.” Results and future predictions are a stark indication of the adverse effects of climate change that citizens are witnessing in real-time in Pakistan. Melting glaciers will indeed lead to a host of other challenges including increased threat of GLOF events as well as floods. This puts to risk lives, properties, livelihoods and infrastructure.

The mechanisms to mitigate such threats can be divided into three distinct categories: First, the government must ramp up monitoring of glacial masses through remote sensing and GIS systems in order to predict the rate at which glaciers are receding; Second, disaster management systems must be in place including emergency systems; Third, melting glaciers provides a unique opportunity to store clean water for distribution to nearby communities. This will require massive development and redesigning whereby lakes and stream can withstand high capacity and access water be diverted to nearby storage and distribution units. With innovative ideas and a proper proposal, officials can seek the help of international climate change organisations who can help fund the project.

The government must realise that tradition mitigation techniques have become outdated in the wake of climate change and sustainable, resilient systems must be in place to cope with exacerbating effects. If timely action is taken, the crisis can be managed and thousands of lives can be saved in the process.

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