Melting glaciers : Minister calls for boosting national flood-resilience

Published: July 6, 2015
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PMelting of glaciers in Pakistan to speed up in coming years. HOTO: AFP

PMelting of glaciers in Pakistan to speed up in coming years. HOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Climate Change Mushahidullah Khan expressed serious concern over recent scientific findings by climate scientists and glaciologists in a study that Pakistan’s glaciers in the northern mountainous region were at risk of melting at an increased pace because of global warming.

“If melting of glaciers in the country’s north, which are vital to sustainability of country’s agro-based economy, picks up pace then water flow in rivers will increase and can lead to devastating floods in the coming years,” he warned in a press statement issued here on Sunday, while referring to the study published in the International Nature Climate Change Journal in May 2015.

Khan called for boosting country’s flood resilience in the light of the study. “We must prepare now,” he stressed.

A renowned body of scientists from Pakistan, China, the US, Canada, the UK, Ecuador, Italy, Austria and Kazakhstan have concluded in the study that melting of Pakistan’s glaciers was likely to speed up in coming decades as temperature in the mountain valleys in the country’s north were increasing at a higher pace.

“We have found clear evidence that mountain regions at and above 5,000 metres could be warming faster than previously thought. We have called for rigorous monitoring of temperature patterns in mountain regions,” said Dr Ziaur Rehman Hashmi, one of the authors of the research and senior scientific officer at the Global Change Impact Study Centre of Ministry of Climate Change.

He noted average temperatures in mountain valleys had surged steadily over the past 50 years and the rate of change was speeding up further.

Dr Hashmi highlights that Pakistan was one of the countries most vulnerable to negative impact of climate change.

“If we are right and the mountains in Pakistan are warming more rapidly as compared to the lower parts of the country, then the social and economic consequences could be graver, and we could see our glaciers disappear much sooner than previously thought, leading to a dramatic change in the hydrological regime of the Indus River System,” he warns.

“Water shortages could exacerbate once the glaciated area comprising over 5,000 glaciers shrink in the coming decades and the possible extinction of some alpine flora and fauna would be more pronounced negative impact,” Dr Hashmi pointed out while referring to the findings of the study.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 6th, 2015.

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