Cutting pollution to Covid pandemic level may prevent Himalayan glaciers from disappearing: Study – Times of India

Cutting pollution to Covid pandemic level may prevent Himalayan glaciers from disappearing: Study - Times of India

New Delhi: Reducing air pollution levels during the Covid-19 pandemic could protect Himalayan glaciers and prevent them from disappearing by the end of the century, says a study from India, Germany and the UK. It is known from the study of the international research team. Analyzing the situation during the Covid-19 lockdown in 2020, the team found that cleaner air during this period ensured that less soot accumulated on the glaciers, resulting in 0.5 to 1.5 mm (ml m) snow melts less per day.
According to the researchers, the rapid retreat of glaciers and ice cover already threatens the sustainable water supply of billions of people in Asia who live in the catchment areas of rivers such as the Indus, Ganges and Yangtze.
He said that if emissions of air pollutants like soot can be reduced to at least lockdown levels, the rate of snowmelt can be reduced by half.
The study, published in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, found that switching to clean energy supply and low-emission modes of transportation could improve sustainable water supply, agriculture and ecosystems across large parts of Asia. There will be benefits.
The mountains of the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) and the highlands of Tibet in Central Asia form the largest ice-covered region outside the poles.
Meltwater from these glaciers feeds rivers in India and China, fueling agriculture, hydropower generation and the economies of these countries.
Models for extreme scenarios show that melting snow in the Himalayas could cause glaciers there to disappear by the end of the 21st century.
The researchers noted that the economic slowdown caused by lockdown measures during the coronavirus pandemic led to a sharp decline in passenger and freight transport, industrial emissions and energy consumption in the region in 2020. happened
As a result, there was a significant reduction in air pollution with greenhouse gases and especially soot, he said.
Satellite observations showed cleaner snow with about a third less light-absorbing pollution during the lockdown in Asia between March and May 2020, the researchers said.
This has resulted in 25 to 70 mm less snowmelt in 2020 compared to the 20-year average for March to May in the Western Himalayas, he said.
According to the study, changes in snow absorption and surface albedo ensured that about 7 cubic kilometers of meltwater remained in the Indus catchment area.
The team used global simulations to analyze in detail the impact of air pollution reductions on the high mountains of Central Asia during the Covid-19 lockdown between March and May 2020.
“Aerosol optical thickness (AOD), the opacity of the atmosphere in this region, decreased by about 10 percent in April 2020 compared to pre-pandemic,” said Suvarna Fadnavis from the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune.
“This is supported by NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) measurements, which also show a decrease in AOD compared to the average of the last 20 years,” Fadnavis said.
Ground-based measurements by the Aerosol Radiative Forcing Over India Network (ARFINET) also showed reductions in soot: the Indian Gangetic Plain (more than 50 percent), Northeast India (more than 30 percent), the Himalayan region ( 16-60 percent) and Tibet (70 percent), the researchers said.
He added that due to the reduction in anthropogenic air pollution, less soot is accumulating on the snow in large parts of the high mountains of Central Asia.

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