While four of the NYCAians went to track global negotiations on Climate Change in Bangkok, other we four NYCians trekked to Manang and Mustang to trace impacts of Climate Change in The Himalayas. We trekked to highest lake (Tilicho lake -4919m), climbed highest pass (Thorang La Pass-5400m) and passed the deepest gorge in the world within ten days (Sept 30- Oct 10 2009) tracing the climate impacts.
Gagapurna Glacier with Gangapurna glacier lake in its foot Gangapurna Peak above it (7454M) near Manang village looks magnificent and is very close from the village. But the increasing temperature of the earth poses threat to the existence of this glacier. This glacier is retreating in rapid rate as other glaciers in the Himalayas.
Wangel, inhabitant and tourism entrepreneur of Manang Village, told us a story of An Inconvenient Truth of Gangapurna Glacier. “The glacier was said to be extended almost up to the lake while his dad was young (approximately a kilometre below its recent existence). During his own time, the glacier was retreated so rapidly that he could felt that something was wrong. The glacier was retreated more than 200 metres in these last few decades and is still retreating rapidly.”
This is a story of only Gangapurna glacier and the same fate is with more than 3000 glacier in the Himalayas of Nepal.
On our way, we met lots of people who are worried about the changing climate, melting snows/glaciers and changing behaviour of rainfall and snowfall. And has threatened their livelihoods making more vulnerable to survive with the increasing temperature.
According to a Mountaineer who was just back from summiting Pisang Peak (6091m) with Spanish Expedition Team (Also ascended Everest seven times and lots of highest peak in Nepal and outside Nepal and also assisting others mountaineers in climbing peaks of Nepal), for the first time, he noticed that Pisang Peak was snow free this previous two years. He was also worried about the vanishing of glowing snows and glaciers in the Himalayas. This changing Himalayas will certainly affect the tourism industries of Nepal where thousands of people directly derive their livelihoods from the tourism sector.
Recent trend of increase of temperature has lead to formation and enlargement of the glacier lakes which makes it more vulnerable to outburst causing a catastrophic Glacier Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs). If this trend continues, Tilicho lake is likely to burst someday which will wash out the major settlements of Manang district and creates huge catastrophe downstream.
When we were there, we received a heavy downpour in lower region and heavy snowfall in higher altitude for three days. No one had expected such a heavy snowfall this early and heavy downpour this late and neither did we nor prepared for that. The snowfall in September and October was very unusual. According to a member of expedition team, this was the first time he saw snow in Thorang La pass in his 27 ascends of Pass. And we were the luckiest one to see the heavy snowfall this early.
Some of the findings the impacts of climate change in Manang and Mustang:
• Irregularities in snowfall and rainfall pattern
• Unpredictable and catastrophic weather
• No more colder days now, than it were to be
• More rainfall replacing the amount of snowfall
• Changing seasonal pattern has degraded the production of apples
The Himalayas (Third Pole of the Earth) is one of the hotspot of climate change. Glaciers in Himalayas are retreating rapidly due to increasing temperature. Some glaciers are retreating at the rate more than 30m per year. If temperature continues to rise at the same rate there will be no more glaciers in the Himalayas within few decades.
Himalayas are more than the mountains. Himalayas are our culture, our driver of civilization and our hopes of survival. More than 1.4 billion people of Asia depend upon water from the melting of snows and glaciers in the Himalayas.
Stop Climate Change!!
Let The Himalayas Live!!!