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China's melting glaciers could affect India
January 05, 2007 17:42 IST
Glaciers on the fragile Qinghai-Tibet plateau, a source of major Asian rivers including the Bhramaputra and the Ganga, are shrinking rapidly and could affect India and China, Chinese state media reported Friday.
In the past three decades, the glaciers have shrunk by 131.4 square kilometres annually, according to the latest report from the China Geological Survey Bureau. What that means is that an area of glacier equivalent to twice the size of the Beijing downtown area disappears every year, Xinhua news agency reported.
A further 13,000 square kms of the glacier will disappear by 2050 if no protective measures are taken, the report said. Researchers said the melting of the glaciers has brought abundant water to the rivers, lakes and wetlands in the plateau and its surrounding areas in the short term.
"But as the glacier shrinkage accelerates, the plateau's total water storage will decrease rapidly," a remote sensing expert, Fang Hongbin said. Experts point out that since the plateau supplies the headstreams of many of the major rivers in East, Southeast and South Asia, the decrease of water storage in the region will have a significant impact on the economic and social development of China as well as neighbouring countries, the report said.
The Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is home to the source of many big rivers in Asia such as the Yangtze, Bhramaputra and Ganga, giving it the nickname the "water tower" of China.