Global warming is set to shrink mountain glaciers in Asia by a third when we hit 2100, new research indicates.
This would result in a devastating impact on the 800 million people whose fresh water supply is derived from them.
The findings, published in the journal Nature, pertain to glaciers which feed some of the continent's biggest rivers, such as the Ganges in India and Bangladesh, the Indus which flows through Pakistan and the Brahmaputra, which flows through Tibet and India.
The estimation of a third is a best case scenario, according to the researchers, as it is based on the assumption that the world manages to limit average global warming to 1.5C over pre-industrial levels. (In 2010, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change placed a goal to limit the increase in global average warming to below 2C above pre-industrial levels. We've hit 1C already.)
"To meet the 1.5C target will be a task of unprecedented difficulty, and even then, 36 per cent (give or take 7 per cent) of the ice mass in the high mountains of Asia is projected to be lost by 2100," write the researchers.
The Hindu Kush mountain range would warm by about 2.3C, while the eastern Himalayas by 1.9C, the research indicates.