Mount Everest is one of the areas in the world that are experiencing rapid warming conditions. Now, researchers have found a new aspect that showed up in the mountains, which could ultimately have disastrous effects.
The Hindu Kush Himalayan region, covering 4.2msg kilometers (1.6m square miles) and supplies Asia’s most massive river systems and an approximate 1.4 billion, as per the Science Mag.
Analyzing images between 1993 and 2018 for NASA‘s Landsat probes, scientists from Exter University observed the expansion of vegetation across the area in particular places in their research, which was published in Global Change Biology.
The rising number in shrubs and grasses showing up across particular regions in the Himalayas could increase the risk of flooding, but it also suggests warmer conditions, or, as the scientists dubbed it, the removal of ‘temperature limitation.’ Analyzing the highest location above the treelike that has seasonal snow cover, scientists discovered that vegetation had increased radically in the last 25 years.
Dr. Karen Anderson, from the Environment and Sustainability Institute on Exter’s Penryn Campus in Cornwall, said: “A lot of research has been done on ice melting in the Himalayan region, including a study that showed how the rate of ice loss doubled between 2000 and 2016. If the ecology is changing, that will have impacts on the hydrology. Nobody’s considered that before.”
“Snowfalls and melts subnival zone seasonally, and we don’t know what impact changing subnival vegetation will have on this aspect of the water cycle – which is vital because this region, known as ‘Asia’s water towers,’ feeds the ten largest rivers in Asia.”
In addition, because of the zone encountering seasonal snow, if the conditions were to be altered, Dr. Anderson said regions could see ‘quicker melt rates and an increased risk of flooding.’
In spite of the finding, it is not entirely known how more vegetation may impact the area’s water supply in the future. Even so, an increase in flora would imply warming temperatures while plants in the region will also consume more light and warm the ice.
Dr. Anderson added: “The subnival zone is where seasonal snow is held and if it is warmer you will get flashy hydrology – quicker melt rates and an increased risk of flooding.”
The Real Impacts
Even though there could be severe impacts for the region, because of the size of the region which scientists are attempting to study, it is difficult to determine the changing patterns of the climate.
Dr. Anderson added: “It is important to monitor and understand ice loss in major mountain systems, but subnival ecosystems cover a much larger area than permanent snow and ice, and we know very little about them and how they moderate water supply. There’s hardly any ecological data from this region at all.”
The Hindu Kush Himalayan area stretches across all or part of eight countries in Asia. Due to Google’s new Earth Engine technology, scientists were able to remodel the way they work and evaluate the massive area much more than before.
Dr. Anderson did close, saying that detailed research into vegetation in the high Himalayas needs to be done to comprehend the real impacts of global warming in the area.
She said: “What does the change in vegetation mean for the hydrology the properties of water in the region is one of the key questions. Will that slow down the melting of glaciers and ice sheets, or will it accelerate the process?
“We really don’t know much about this area, and we need to direct research attention towards it because it’s a major part of the water supply story in the Himalayas.”