Climate Report: Oceans To Rise 10-Fold, India to See Severe Floods

Mountains likely to lose 80 percent of their glaciers in just 80 years.

3 min read
In this file photo from February 2016, trekkers pass through a glacier at the Mount Everest base camp, Nepal. Image used for representational purposes only.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) ‘Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate’ (SROCC), released on Wednesday, 25 September, pointed that ocean levels will rise 10 times faster and most mountain ranges could lose 80 percent of their glaciers by 2100.

The report was initiated as a response to a request made by world leaders for a report on the impact of climate change on ocean and cryosphere – which includes frozen parts of the planet such as ice caps, glaciers, shelf ice and snow.

Climate Report: Oceans To Rise 10-Fold, India to See Severe Floods
(Illustration by Arnica Kala/TheQuint)

Key Takeaways For India

Anjal Prakash who is the coordinating lead author of the report as well as an associate professor of Regional Water Studies at TERI School of Advanced Studies deciphered the global report from India’s perspective. These are her takeaways:

  • The Hindu Kush Himalayan region (HKH) – with a population of 1.9 billion in ten major river basins will face the strongest impact across Asia. These include the Tien Shan, Kun Lun, Pamir, Hindu Kush, Karakoram, Himalayas, and Hengduan and the high-altitude Tibetan Plateau areas.
  • There will be large-scale uncertainty in rainfall patterns. Floods will become more frequent and severe in the mountainous and downstream areas of the Indus, Ganges and Brahmaputra river basins, due to an increase in “extreme precipitation events.”
  • According to current predictions, the regional temperature is likely to increase between 3.5°C and 6°C by 2100, leading to significant losses in glacier volume, from 36 to 64 percent, depending on the warming scenario. This will impact the flow of water and its availability.
  • Due to global warming and its implications in the water resources in the HKH region, three sectors would be “directly affected” – water for domestic use, agriculture and hydroelectricity.
The IPCC is an organisation of 195 governments that are members of the United Nations. Over the three years that it took to compile the report, nearly 7000 scientific papers were assessed, with inputs from 104 authors and editors across 36 countries.

Key Highlights From the Report:

Melting Glaciers

According to the report, glaciers will on an average, lose more than a third of their mass because of high emissions. Some of these mountain ranges could lose more than 80 percent of their glaciers by the year 2100 and many glaciers will disappear “entirely,” the IPCC said.

Notably, the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are melting melting at alarming rates, releasing more than 400 billion tonnes of water a year. The area of the Arctic covered by snow each summer is already shrinking more than 13 percent a decade, it pointed.

Rise In Sea-Levels

Sea-levels have already risen by 16 centimeters due to human-caused greenhouse gas emissions. This is likely to rise 10 times faster by 2100, if the emissions are not kept in check, the report warned.

Which means currently the rise in sea-levels is at 3.6mm every year, by 2100 it is expected to be 15mm every year. This is ten times the rise that has been recorded over the last century.

This means sea-level will rise to about 84 cm by 2100.

On Marine Life

A combination of rising temperature and overfishing has “reduced” the number of fish, the report states.

According to Environment Defense Fund, overfishing is catching too many fish at once, in such a way that the breeding population becomes “too depleted” to recover.

The total mass of animals in the world’s ocean could decrease by 15 percent and the maximum catch potential of fisheries could fall up to 24 percent by the end of the century, without emission cuts.

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