Climate change hitting Everest region

Nima Dorjee Sherpa decided to leave for Kathmandu with his four-member family last year from the Khumbu region after the water sources there ran dry.“There were three water sources in the village till 2008, two have disappeared within four years,” Sherpa said, adding his family found it very hard to access another source. “It takes nearly two hours to fetch water from my ancestral home at Khumjung.”Not only in Khumjung, drinking water problem has become chronic in the lower belt of Solukhumbu as well. “Thousands of families in the mountain range suffer from the same problem,” he mentioned, adding that more families have started migrating to urban areas due to lack of water.

The avalanche of April 18 on the Everest has also drawn the attention of the world’s climate scientists to the possible impact of global warming in the Everest region. They have started analysing possible linkages of climate change impact to the avalanche, President of Nepal Mountaineering Association Ang Tshering Sherpa, who has organised a number of expeditions with climate change messages at the centre, said. According to him, mountain people are already feeling the heat. “Problems like water crunch resulting from global warming have contributed to migration,” the NMA president said.

Alton Byers’ Book ‘The Call on Everest’ also mentions the impact of climate change on the Everest, pointing that people there are talking about scarcity of water. Researchers have pointed out that impacts of climate change on human society could range from water to food and energy.

Locals of the Khumbu region say they felt hotter than the previous years this season. “Climate has been erratic here in recent years,” Nima Sherpa, a hotelier in Lukla said. “We don’t know what will be here in the coming years, rumours of glacial lake outburst threat are also there,” he said.

Earlier, there was a lot of snow and ice on the Everest route. With snow melting, bare rock is all that one finds there these days. “Lately, we have experienced frequent instability in the snowpack,” an icefall doctor with the Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee, Lakpa Sherpa, said from the base camp. “It’s very hard now for icefall doctors and experienced guides to describe the possible movement and behaviour of the mountain on its icy slope, to the climbers,” he said. An expedition leader, Damian Benegas, has also been experiencing differences in the Everest region over the past five years. “It is getting more difficult and challenging to cross through the Khumbu Icefall en route to Mt Everest summit,” Damian, who arrived from base camp yesterday, told this daily. “Earlier, Sherpas could surmise when and how to cross the dangerous route on the slope of the mountain, but now such guesses, if made, could be very far from reality,” Damian said, adding that climate change has obviously taken its toll.

Tim Rippel, an expedition leader from Peak Freaks, also mentioned on his blog post from the base camp: “We no longer climb those mountains due to global warming, the ice is melting the glue that holds them together.”

A group of researchers from the University of Milan also claimed they had found abundant evidence that the top of the world was shedding its frozen cloak. Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research recently claimed in its report that Everest has shrunk by 10 per cent over the last four decades because of melting ice. The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development had earlier claimed that Himalayan glaciers had shrunk by 21 per cent in three decades.

According to ICIMOD reports, the Himalayas are a source of food and energy for 1.3 billion people residing in downstream river basins.

Ice melting:• In the Khumbu region, there were three water sources till 2008. Two have already dried up, says a local• Shortage of drinking water in Khumbu and in the lower belt of Solukhumbu is hitting locals hard

• Earlier, the Everest route used to be covered with snow. These days, bare rocks are what the climbers find

• Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research claimed in its recent report that Everest has shrunk by 10 per cent over the last four decades because of melting ice

Source: The Himalayan Times
Date: 29 April 2014

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