It will begin with overflowing rivers, which will wash away homes and fields in China, India and South-East Asia. After a few decades will come drought, as the same rivers dwindle to a trickle. And then will come the second deluge—immense walls of water, like mountain tsunamis, which will break through thin walls of frozen earth, washing away bridges, dams and Himalayan communities.So remember, kids, if you move to China or India for that high-skilled, well-paying job, make sure you're out of the flood zone.
Seventy per cent of the world's fresh water is frozen in glaciers, and the Himalayas possess the highest concentration anywhere apart from the polar ice caps. During the dry seasons, melt water from glaciers flows down the valleys and swells rivers that would otherwise dwindle dangerously low.
The Himalayan glaciers supply 8.6 million cubic metres (304 cu ft) every year to Asian rivers, including the Yangtze and Yellow rivers in China, the Ganga (Ganges) in India, the Indus in Pakistan, the Brahmaputra in Bangladesh, the Salween and Irrawaddy in Burma, and the Mekong, which flows through China, Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.
But the average temperature in the Himalayas has risen by 1C since the 1970s, and the glaciers are in retreat. The Khumbu Glacier in Nepal, where Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay began their ascent of Everest, has retreated more than three miles since they climbed the mountain in 1953. According to a report published in March by the WWF, a quarter of the world's glaciers could disappear by 2050.
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