Pollution drying up glaciers in South Asia, says report


A latest report authored by a team of scientists has warned that the “haze of pollution over southern Asia was now accelerating the loss of glaciers in the Himalayan region.” The haze is feared to first enhance and then deplete the quantity of water in the rivers, which emanate in the Himalayas, indicating at flash floods and droughts in future, a report circulated in the Internet warns.

The team researchers, led by Professor Ramanathan of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California, had flown 18 unmanned planes through different layers of Brown Cloud over the Indian ocean from the Maldives.

The conclusion the team has come to is that “cloud boosts the effect of solar heating on the air around it by nearly 50 per cent” indicating at the rise in temperature.

The team of researchers has also concluded that the so-called Asian Brown Cloud is as much to blame as Greenhouse gases for the warming observed in the Himalayas over the past half century. The revelation comes in the backdrop of the rapid melting of the 46,000 glaciers in the environs of the Tibetan Plateau, which is causing downstream flooding.

“But long-term worries focus more on the danger of drought, as the glaciers shrink,” the report states.

Meanwhile,the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) chief Achim Steiner has urged the international community to tackle climate change following the release of the report in the Internet yesterday.

The plume —- or the Asian Brown Cloud as the latest discovery is called —- sprawls across South Asia, parts of Southeast Asia and the northern Indian Ocean.

It is spewed from tailpipes, factory chimneys and power plants, forests or fields that are being burned for agriculture, and wood and dung which are burned for fuel.

However, while the emissions of carbon gases are known to be the big drivers of global warming, the role of particulate pollution like the Brown Clouds was unclear prior to this. The report on pollution was originally carried by www.taipeitimes.com.

Particulates, which are also called aerosols, are known to cool the land or sea beneath them because they filter out sunlight, a process known as global dimming.

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