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Glaciers in eastern Himalayas melting: Report

KATHMANDU: Scientists have found fresh evidence of retreating glaciers in the eastern Himalayas in India and Nepal, though the water flow in numerous Himalayan rivers will not decline significantly, an international institute said here on Monday.

“Multiple researchers presented evidence of the retreat of glaciers in the eastern Himalayas, but suggested that river flows will not decline significantly in the coming decades, as melt rates and precipitation are projected to increase,” the Kathmandu-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) said in its new report.

The study brought together 240 scientists from 26 countries, who took part in the six-day International Symposium on Glaciology in High-Mountain Asia to share the latest findings on glaciers, glacier change, glacier contribution to river flow, and mountain hazards in the region.

The study also highlighted Karakoram as a region where glaciers are not retreating, and underlines the need for future research in this region to explain this anomaly.

“We are making progress on understanding the region as a whole, but when we look at glacier change in more detail, we realise the picture is not yet clear," a statement quoting Joseph Shea, a glacier hydrologist at ICIMOD, said.

“Glaciers in high mountain Asia are the highest on earth, and we have built a strong foundation for future research through this symposium,” IGS president Doug MacAyeal said.

“However, questions remain about the role of debris cover and black carbon in glacier melt and the limited number of high-altitude precipitation observations,” he said.

Results from the symposium will be published in a special edition of the peer-reviewed journal Annals of Glaciology, set to be released next year.