A new NASA study takes a look at water and ice losses in the Himalayan region.
The glacier-covered Himalayas are among the most hostile places on Earth, yet just south of the mountains, India's rapidly growing cities bustle with activity. Despite this contrast, human impact has altered the water and ice inventory of both regions, as measured by NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites. Driven by climate change, Himalayan glaciers are losing about 4 billion tons of ice each year—a large volume, but nowhere near previous higher estimates. Meanwhile, a burst of economic and population growth has drastically depleted groundwater reserves in northern India by an average of 35 billion tons annually. The visualization below provides a detailed look at the change in groundwater levels and ice-capped glaciers from 2003 to 2010 on a map of the region, where yellow dots mark the location of individual glaciers.
Lead Scientists: Thomas Jacob (Department of Physics and Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado at Boulder) John Wahr (Department of Physics and Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado at Boulder) W. Tad Pfeffer (Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research/Environmental, and Architectural Engineering, University of Colorado at Boulder) Sean Swenson (National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder)