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Expert Warns Water Crisis Impending

The Switzerland-based World Wide Fund for Nature or WWF says in a report that the rate of retreat of glaciers is accelerating because of global warming, and has now reached 10-15 meters a year.

The rapid melting of glaciers in the Asian mountain range will initially cause flooding but subsequently lead to lower water levels in rivers, creating massive economic and environmental problems in western China, Nepal and northern India.

In China, the report says, the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau's wetlands have seen declining lake water levels, lake shrinkage, and the degradation of swampland.

Professor Shen Yongping, a research fellow with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, has conducted an overview of retreating glaciers and their impact on the plateau.

He says the glacier retreat in the past 20 to 30 years is unprecedented.

"The retreat of glaciers in the past twenty to thirty years equals that of two to three hundred years before, which means changes which were slow before are now rapid. And the sharp change to the water supply to the rivers will mean a major crisis for agricultural irrigation and hydropower projects in the downstream areas."

Professor Shen Yongping also warns that these changes will cause either floods or droughts in these areas.

Himalayan glaciers feed into seven of Asia's biggest rivers, including China's Yangtze and Yellow Rivers.

They ensure a year-round water supply to hundreds of millions of people in China and the Indian sub-continent.

(CRI March 15, 2005)


Scientists Concerned over Glacial Shrinkage
Glacier in Southwest China Retreats
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