How are glaciers in the Himalayas changing?

It’s no surprise that glaciers in the Himalayas are being monitored closely, their seasonal melting provides hundreds of millions of people with water throughout northern India and beyond. If the glaciers melt the supply of water they generate could become unstable, threatening the livelihoods of those who rely on it.

Beyond water supply issues, there are other problems. Lakes are now building up behind the natural moraine dams left by the retreating glaciers. The growth of these proglacial lakes is putting increasing pressure on the dams, sometimes leading to potentially catastrophic collapses, known as Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs for short).

Recent research has tried to identify the scale of the problem:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8109389.stm

The UN is also involved in the monitoring of potential GLOFs:

http://www.rrcap.unep.org/issues/glof/

A bit more background here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glacial_lake_outburst_flood

Here is the UNDP’s assessment of the risk in Nepal:

http://www.undp.org.np/energy/projects/GLOF/index.php?ProgramID=73

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