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28-June-2024-Special-Article

June 28 @ 7:00 am - 11:30 pm

HINDU KUSH HIMALAYA 

The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) has reported record low levels of snow persistence in the Ganga, Brahmaputra, and Indus basins. 

About ICIMOD 

  • Establishment: Founded in 1983. 
  • Purpose: Works towards a greener, inclusive, and climate-resilient Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH). 

Findings of the Report 

Global Findings 

  • Amu Darya River Basin: In Afghanistan, experienced its lowest level of snow persistence. 
  • Helmand River: Vital for Iran and Afghanistan’s water supply, saw snow persistence 32% below normal. 
  • Yellow River Basin (China): Exceeded normal levels by 20.2% due to the interaction of cold air from the East Asian winter monsoon and moist air from the Pacific Ocean. 

India’s Context 

  • Data Analysis: From 2003 to 2024. 
  • Ganga River Basin: Recorded its lowest snow persistence in 22 years. 
  • Brahmaputra Basin: Snow persistence decreased by 14.6% compared to normal levels. 

Reason Behind Low Snow Persistence 

Weakened Western Disturbances and Global Warming 

  • Impact: Warmer seas in the Mediterranean, Caspian, and Black Seas have weakened western disturbances, reducing winter precipitation and snowfall in the HKH region. 
  • Global Warming: Intensifies La Niña and El Niño events, further decreasing snow persistence. 
  • Temperature Increase: The HKH region may experience higher temperature increases than the global average, making the 1.5°C global temperature limit under the Paris Agreement insufficient. 

Environmental Degradation 

  • Drivers: Deforestation, overgrazing, unsustainable land practices, and infrastructure development. 
  • Consequences: Soil erosion, loss of biodiversity, and water pollution. 

Proliferation of Invasive Species 

  • Invasive Species: Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense) and white clover (Trifolium repens) threaten native Himalayan species, disrupting the region’s ecosystem. 

Key Recommendations 

Long-term Strategies 

  • Reforestation: Using native species to improve snow retention. 
  • Weather Forecasting: Enhanced forecasting and early warning systems. 
  • Water Infrastructure: Improved infrastructure and protective policies for snow-receiving areas. 
  • Community Involvement: Involving local communities in decision-making and promoting regional cooperation. 

Climate Change Mitigation 

  • Emission Reduction: Focus on reducing emissions, especially in G-20 countries, which are responsible for 81% of global emissions. 
  • Clean Energy: Transition away from fossil fuels towards cleaner energy sources. 

About Snow Persistence 

Definition 

  • Snow Persistence: The duration that snow remains on the ground, contributing water to people and ecosystems when it melts. 

Significance 

  • Water Source: Snowmelt in the HKH river basins is the primary source of water for streams, accounting for 23% of the yearly runoff. 
  • Population Impact: These river basins provide water to almost one-fourth of the world’s population and are a significant freshwater source for 240 million people in the HKH region. 
  • Specific Contributions: 
  • Ganga River Basin: Snowmelt contributes 10.3% of the Ganga’s water; glacier melt contributes 3.1%. 
  • Brahmaputra Basin: Snowmelt provides 13.2% of water supply; glacier melt provides 1.8%. 
  • Indus Basin: Snowmelt accounts for approximately 40% of water supply; glacier melt accounts for 5%. 

The Hindu Kush Himalaya Region 

Geographical Span 

  • Countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. 

Third Pole 

  • Significance: Referred to as the Third Pole due to its vast ice and snow reserves. 
  • Climatic Importance: Hosts the largest concentration of ice and snow outside the Arctic and Antarctica. 
  • Water Source: Ice and snow from the HKH region feed major rivers flowing through 16 countries across Asia. 

Key River Systems and Their Destinations 

South Asia: 

  • Indus, Ganga, Brahmaputra → Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal 

Central Asia: 

  • Syr Darya, Amu Darya → Former Aral Sea basin 

East Asia: 

  • Tarim → Taklamakan Desert 
  • Yellow River → Gulf of Bohai 
  • Yangtze → East China Sea 

Southeast Asia: 

  • Mekong → South China Sea 
  • Chindwin, Salween, Irrawaddy → Andaman Sea 

Mains Question: 

  1. Discuss the environmental and socio-economic impacts of declining snow persistence in the Hindu Kush Himalaya region and suggest measures for climate change mitigation and adaptation in this context. (150 WORDS)

Details

Date:
June 28
Time:
7:00 am - 11:30 pm
Event Category:
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