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Experts urge multilateral cooperation in Himalayan glacier flooding combat

Chinese and foreign researchers call for regional cooperation in fighting against the potential flooding from rapidly melting glaciers in the Himalayan region, Monday’s China Daily reports.

Chinese researchers are considering sharing satellite monitoring resources and air-borne remote-control surveys with neighbouring nations like Nepal and India.

Ren Jiawen, a top Chinese glacial researcher with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said that a regional approach would upgrade the monitoring and combat systems of such a trans-national issue. Researchers from Nepal and the United Nations’ Environment Program (UNEP), according to the China Daily, have also proposed such an approach.

The frequency of glacial floods has risen over the past three decades. Tens of thousands of residents are at risk from the floods along with people’s properties and businesses, having the potential to cause havoc on the region’s economy.

According to the latest UNEP report, which was released in April, at least 44 glacial lakes in Bhutan and Nepal could burst banks in five years.

Surrenda Shrestha, regional co-ordinator in Asia for UNEP’s Division of Early Warning and Assessment, has also warned that other areas in the Himalayas and across the world are in a similar critical state.

About 12 glacier incidents have been recorded in China’s Tibet since 1935. The latest one took place in 1981 and destroyed three concrete bridges and crippled a long section of the Nepal-China Highway.

P.K. Mool, a leading researcher from the Nepal-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, urged joint efforts in inventory, monitoring, mitigation work and early
warning systems.

UNEP said it is ready to assist by mobilizing necessary resources for regional partnerships in the Himalayan area. On average, air temperatures in the Himalayan region are 1 degree C higher than during the 1970s, a rise of 0.06 degrees C per year, according to the UNEP report.