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Climate Change

Melting glaciers redistribute Asia's water

David Dollar's picture

"The glacier at Karo-la pass covered the whole rock face when our Tibetan guide began leading tours in 1996."
I spent the October holiday in China traveling across the Tibetan plateau to Qomolangma (Mount Everest) base camp. One striking impression was how much water there is there. Most of the great rivers of Asia originate on the Qinghai-Tibet plateau: Ganges, Indus, Yangtze, Yellow, Mekong, Salween, Irrawady, and Yarhung Tsangpo (which becomes the Brahmaputra in India and Bangladesh). Half the world’s population gets its water from these rivers running off the plateau. The rivers are fed by the gradual melting of the huge glaciers that cover the Himalayan peaks, as well as the melting of the annual snowpack and seasonal rain. (The name of the Himalayan peak, Annapurna, in Nepal means “full of food,” reflecting the fact that the gradual melting of snowpack and glaciers each spring and summer waters the rice crop.)

The melting of the glaciers has accelerated dramatically in recent years. This is one of the most profound effects of global warming. The glaciers have shrunk 20% over the past 50 years, with much of that in the past decade. Our Tibetan guide took us to a number of different glaciers and showed us how they had receded since he starting taking tours around in 1996. At Karo-la pass we stood on hard, dry ground that had been covered by the glacier just 12 years ago. Climate scientists project that the glaciers will be 80% gone by 2035.

Why GEF Is Backing DM2008

Tom Grubisich's picture

Monique Barbut, CEO and Chairwoman of the Global Environment Facility -- the largest funder of projects to improve the global environment and one of the funders of Development Markektplace 2008 -- talked about GEF's role in the grant competition.

Q. GEF deals with multimillion-dollar programs. DM2008's projects are in the $200,000 or less range. Why are they important to GEF?

Climate change and the migration fallout

Sonia Plaza's picture

The impact of sea level rise from global warming could be catastrophic for many developing countries.  The World Bank estimates that even a one meter rise would turn at least 56 million people in the developing world into environmental refugees. 


Not only do countries need to start planning and implementing measures for adaptation, but the international community and some countries will need to devise an immigration strategy how to deal with populations who will be forced to resettle due to climate change.