Climate models show that summer flow in the Indus, Ganges, Brahmaputra and their snow-fed tributaries will actually rise till 2050 as the glaciers melt, but will start decreasing after that because there will be no more ice left. Measurements show that glaciers in the Central and Eastern Himalaya are shrinking at 40cm/year, and some are receding up to 30m/year.
Santosh Nepal, water and climate specialist at ICIMOD and co-author of the current report said that since four out of the five most relied-upon and vulnerable water towers in Asia are located in the Himalayan region, the rivers that flowed down from them needed special attention.
“Even when assessed on a global scale, the Indus in particular is one of the most critical and vulnerable water towers in the world,” Nepal said. “This is something the region as a whole needs to take seriously, and work on addressing collectively.”