Ever since the IPCC admitted an error regarding the rate at which Himalayan glaciers were melting—they won't be entirely gone by 2035, even under the most pessimistic climate change scenarios—the whole topic of climate change inducing glacier melting has died down in its coverage.
Which is really too bad, as the fact of the matter is that the world's glaciers continue to melt due to climate change and the consequences of this remain pretty dire for places where glacial runoff is a big contributor to water supplies and supplies a lot of electricity, as in: China, Tibet, Nepal, Northern India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and even areas along the Mekong River.
A new report released during the 'you go first; no you go first' stalemate climate talks in Tianjin, China summarizes the potential impact on western China alone from glaciers melting (Economic Times).
These are the relevant stats to remember:
- In western China, average glacier area could be reduced by 27.2% by 2050.
- Glaciers throughout Asia could shrink 24.4% in the same time period.
- This means, by 2030 China's crop production will drop 5-10% (with rice, corn and wheat production being strongest hit) and the impacts only worsen past 2050.
- A 4°C temperature increase (which is less than projections show for a business-as-usual increase in greenhouse gas emissions) would increase areas of China affected by drought by 843,000 square kilometers (about 325,500 square miles).