Asia’s high mountains are a crucial freshwater source to one-seventh of the world’s population. Snow and glaciers in these mountains contain the largest volume of freshwater outside of Earth's polar ice sheets, leading hydrologists to nickname this region the Third Pole.
Rapid changes in the region's climate are affecting glacier flows and snowmelt. Local people are already modifying their land-use practices in response to the changing supply, and the region's ecology is transforming. Scientists estimate that by 2100, these glaciers could be up to 75% smaller in volume.
NASA's satellites observe and measure snow and ice cover remotely with multiple types of sensors. This allows scientists to create an authoritative estimate of the water budget of this region and a set of products local policy makers can use in responding to hazards and planning for a changing water supply.
GCMD keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation:
Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version 220.127.116.11.0