the Nepal HIMALAYAS, along with the mountains to the east, are called the Water Towers of Asia, as they provide water amounting to 2,298 x 28,002 cubic gallons (8.7 x 106 cubic meters) per year. The Nepal Himalayas have 3,252 glaciers covering 2,055 sq. mi. (5,323 sq. km.). Affected by global warming; some of these glaciers have shown signs of retreat, along with a diminution of ice fields, particularly in the Great Himalayan region of Nepal. Nepal, with an area of 55 sq. mi. (142 sq. km.). The population of 27 million (2005 est.) is affected by global warming differently in its four regions.
Warming of the Indian Ocean will accentuate monsoon precipitation-generated erosion activity in all four regions of Nepal. The southernmost narrow Terrai region (average height of 656 ft. or 200 m.) that borders India is a plain land, with extensive rice cultivation. Global warming-generated monsoon rain intensity and drought uncertainty will affect agriculture adversely. Moreover, flooding from excessive snow melting will increase until about 2035 in the Kosi, Gandak, and Karnali river basins; causing extensive damage to rice paddies and settlements. After 2035, fresh water flow in rivers will diminish, lowering the levels of Kosi River reservoir, situated only a few miles north of the Indian border. This will adversely affect agricultural activity.
Another narrow east-west stretching region north of Terai is Churia Hills and Inner Terai. This is known as the Siwalik foothills of the Himalayas. The hills reach an altitude of 4,000 ft. (1,219 m.). Siwaliks consist of deposits susceptible to heavy erosion, which will be further aggravated by heavier rainfall. Heavy silting of riverbeds downstream, both in Nepal and India, will aggravate river overflow. The mid-mountain region north of Siwaliks, in which two important valleys (Kathmandu, the capital, and Pokhra) occur, has a complex mountain system that rises up to 14,000 ft. (4,267 m.). This will also experience heavy erosion caused by greater precipitation. Terraced rice fields of this region will face erosion. Heavy snow-melting at the headwaters of Arun, Dun, Sun Kosi, Irisuli, Gan-dak, Beheri, and Karnali rivers will increase flood damage until 2035; parts of Kathmandu will also be further threatened. After 2035, the fresh water supplied by the rivers will diminish, affecting rice cultivation.
The Great Himalayas, the northernmost region, consists of the world's tallest permanent snow-clad
mountain ranges, where, apart from Mount Everest, there are eight others with peaks over 26,247 ft. (8,000 m.). A large chunk of this snow cover will diminish; the process has already started. Several glacial lakes are formed in the region as a result of glacial retreat. Overflow of these lakes leads to forest and farmland destruction, known as Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOF). On August 1985, a GLOF originating from Langmorche glacial lake washed away 14 bridges and damaged a hydroelectric plant in Namche.
SEE ALSo: Floods; Glaciers, Retreating; India; Monsoons.
BIBLioGRApHY. A.K. Dutt and M.M. Geib, 'Nepal," Atlas of South Asia (Oxford Press, 1998); Oliver Springate-Baginski and Piers M. Blaikie, eds., Forests, People and Power: The Political Ecology of Reform in South Asia (Earthscan Publications Ltd., September 2007).
ASHOK K. DUTT University of Akron
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