Central Asia Might Completely Run Out of Freshwater by 2060 Due to Climate Change

The effects of climate change are often about extremes — and sometimes conflicting effects. On the one hand, an increase in global temperature is expected to melting many glaciers and ice shelves and lead to a dangerous rise in sea levels. On the other hand, we can also expect more devastating droughts – especially in some of the world’s most densely populated areas.

That’s the case in a New research published on August 15 in the magazine Natural climate change suggests that a large swath of Central Asia is at risk of a near-complete collapse of major watercourses by 2060. The impact will largely be attributed to weak climate policy and could lead to a possible depletion of freshwater resources. recoverable in some countries.

Specifically, the collapse will occur in the Tibetan Plateau, also known as the “water tower” of Asia. About two billion people in the entire region depend on the Tibetan Plateau for their water needs. If bold action is not taken to reverse current global warming trends, we could see an almost complete collapse of water supplies for Northern India, Kashmir and Pakistan; and the total collapse of water resources for Central Asia and Afghanistan.

Prognosis is not good.

Michael Mann, Penn State

“The prognosis is not good,” said Michael Mann, an atmospheric science researcher at Penn State and co-author of the study, said in a press release. “In a ‘business as usual’ scenario where we cannot meaningfully limit fossil fuel burning in the coming decades, we can expect a near—- i.e. a loss of almost 100% – water availability to the lower reaches of the Tibetan Plateau. “

He added, “I was surprised at how large the predicted drop would be even in a scenario of modest climate policy.”

The study’s authors say that the terrestrial water reserves (TWS) of the Tibetan Plateau — a term to describe freshwater above and below ground — have not been well studied despite serving a large area in the world. So the team looked at terrestrial and satellite measurements of the area’s water supply and found that the TWS in the Highlands plummeted by about 15.8 gigatons per year between 2002 and 2010. 2020.

The researchers then used this data to predict future TWS with a model assuming moderate carbon emissions. They found that Central Asia and Afghanistan would experience a 119% reduction in freshwater availability, while North India, Kashmir and Pakistan would see a 79% reduction. This will lead to catastrophic water insecurity for the billions of people living in the region.

However, there is still hope. Mann specifically pointed at Inflation Reduction Act, led by the Biden administration, as a way to “limit the additional warming and associated climate changes behind the predicted collapse of water towers in the Tibetan Plateau”. However, in the end more work needs to be done.

But even in the best-case scenario, further losses are likely to be unavoidable, which will require significant adaptation to reduced water availability in vulnerable areas, says Mann. overpopulation in the world”.

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