You are here: Home » News-IANS » Environment-Wildlife
Business Standard

Precipitation in Himalayas quite high: Study

IANS  |  New Delhi 

The snowfall and rain in the Himalayas is about twice as high as commonly assumed, a new research said.

The research in the Indus basin by scientists from Utrecht University, FutureWater and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) led to the findings important for water management and climate change impact assessments.

The upper Indus is supposedly very dry, yet the largest glaciers outside the polar regions are located in that area and seemed contradicting. It gave us the idea for the study, said lead author Walter Immerzeel.

"We calculated how much precipitation is required to sustain those large glaciers and the results were spectacular. In the most extreme case, a more than tenfold amount of snow is required than what was previously thought," he said.

In order to derive this information, the researchers combined satellite observations, a computer model and observations from the ground.

The Himalayas and adjacent mountain ranges are an important source of water for more than 25 percent of the global population.

However, it was unknown how much snow and rain falls in those vast mountain ranges, because of the lack of observations and the inaccessibility of the terrain.

Understanding how much water is available in the source areas of Asia's large rivers is of crucial importance. The rivers confirm the findings.

"In the absence of snow and rain measurements at high altitude in the Indus, we needed another way to confirm our findings," Immerzeel said in an email to IANS.

"We use observations of river flow and the results confirmed that the amount of water in the rivers can only be explained if the amount of snow and rain is as high as we estimated," he said.

The Indus basin, which stretches over 1.1 million sq km and is shared by Afghanistan, China, India and Pakistan, with the upper portion resting in the Hindu Kush, Karakorum and Himalayan ranges, irrigation scheme is the largest in the world and it is fed primarily by melt water.

"Since so much of the food production in the Indus depends on glaciers and snow, this shows again how sensitive this area is to climate change," said Marc Bierkens, professor of Hydrology at Utrecht University.

"Our findings will have important bearing on climate change impact studies and water management in this important trans-boundary river basin," he said.

The research titled 'Reconciling high-altitude precipitation in the upper Indus basin with glacier mass balances and runoff'.

While Utrecht University is the Netherlands based, FutureWater is a research organisation that works throughout the world, and Kathmandu-headquartered ICIMOD is a regional inter-governmental centre and works in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan region.

Dear Reader,

Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.
We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

First Published: Wed, December 16 2015. 13:36 IST