The Melting Mountains

The Arctic ice caps and Antarctic glaciers are well-known barometers of global warming, but melting masses of ice in the Himalayas are in perhaps even more danger.

Japan’s Asahi Shimbun newspaper flew a plane over Nepal’s Himalayan glaciers, and found that the ice there is retreating more rapidly than scientists expected.

In some places, mountain lakes have grown so large they threaten to burst their banks –- which could lead to massive flooding in the heavily populated areas downstream.

The newspaper quoted an unnamed Sherpa man as saying, “Year by year, the snow-white part of the mountains becomes smaller while whole mountains darken.”

Nearly half the world’s population depends on water that originates in the Himalayas.

Last month, Nepal’s Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala asked for Japan’s help in saving the Himalayan glaciers.

“Scientists from Japan and Nepal should work together to work out preventive measures,” he told the newspaper.

— Will Crain/


“Global warming continues to thaw Himalayan glaciers at frightening speed”
The Asahi Shimbun, January 10, 2008

“Nepal wants help from Japan to save glaciers”
The Asahi Shimbun, December 6, 2007

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