Study: Himalayan Glaciers are Melting Extremely Fast

The ice from the glaciers in the Himalayas is melting “extremely” quickly, scientists at the University of Leeds write after new research.


The ice has been melting ten times faster in recent decades than the average since the Little Ice Age 400 to 700 years ago. The scientists’ findings have been published in the journal Scientific Reports.

For the study, scientists reconstruct nearly 15,000 glaciers in the Himalayas during the Little Ice Age. Where the glaciers are estimated to have covered about 28,000 square kilometres in the past, this has now shrunk to about 19,600 square kilometres. The researchers say the ice has only started melting faster in recent decades, which they say is in line with human-induced climate change.

During that contraction, the glaciers lost nearly 400 to 600 cubic kilometres of ice, which the scientists say is as much as all the ice from the Central European Alps, the Caucasus, and Scandinavia combined. The melting of all this ice has caused sea levels worldwide to rise by about an inch, the researchers estimate.

Meltwater from the glaciers flows through rivers such as the Ganges and the Indus. The rapid shrinking of glaciers could therefore cause water shortages for millions of people in Asia.

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