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The Changing Himalayas
The Himalayan glaciers are highly sensitive to global warming and are currently retreating at a rapid pace (glaciers in Jammu and
Kashmir, India)
Table 2: Glaciated areas in the greater
Table 3: Glaciated areas in the Himalayan range
Himalayan region
Drainage basin No of Total Total ice
Mountain range Area (km
2
)
glaciers area reserves
Tien Shan 15,417 (km
2
) (km
3
)
Pamir 12,260
Ganges River 6,694 16,677 1971
Qilian Shan 1,930 Brahmaputra River 4,366 6,579 600
Kunlun Shan 12,260 Indus River 5,057 8,926 850
Karakoram 16,600 Total 16,117 32,182 3,421
Qiantang Plateau 3,360
Source: Qin 1999
Tanggulla 2,210
Gandishi 620
major rivers in the region ranges from 2% to 50% of the
Nianqingtangla 7,540 average flow (see Table 1). In the ‘shoulder seasons’, before
Hengduan 1,620 and after precipitation from the summer monsoon, snow
Himalayas 33,050 and ice melt contribute about 70% of the flow of the main
Hindu Kush 3,200
Ganges, Indus, Tarim, and Kabul rivers (Kattelmann 1987;
Hinduradsh 2,700
Singh and Bengtsson 2004; Barnett et al. 2005). The rivers
Total 112,767
of Nepal contribute about 40% of the average annual flow
Source: Dyurgerov and Meier 2005
in the Ganges Basin, which alone is home to 500 million
people, about 10% of the total human population of the
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