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The Himalayas, A Special Report

With one-fifth of the world’s population relying on seasonal Himalayan melting, the disappearance of the Third Pole is sending warning signs.

Himalayas

Floods, droughts, wildfires, windstorms, water contamination and illnesses plague the 1.3 billion people who live in the watersheds directly supplied by glacial melt from the Hindu Kush-Himalaya (HKH) region. The waterways of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Pakistan are endangered, and scientists are gaining a bettter understanding of just how fast climate change is taking its toll on the region.

As the Himalayan glaciers disappear, ten major Asian river systems–the Amu Darya, Indus, Ganges, Brahmaputra, Irrawaddy, Salween, Mekong, Yangtse, Yellow, and Tarim–are threatened. Twenty percent of the world’s population faces a future of catastrophe, according to a report released by University College, Chinadialogue, and King’s College of London in May 2010. Extreme glacial melt, seismic activity and extreme weather events are already affecting the region’s rivers, lakes, wetlands and coasts. The devastation is a warning sign of what’s to come.

In these feature articles, news briefs, photographs, and graphics Circle of Blue documents one of the critical front lines in the global battle against climate change and water scarcity.

Special Features

Himalayan Outburst Lakes May Be Increasing GLOFs

More research needed to understand risk of glacial floods.

70 Percent of Himalayan Glaciers Gone by Next Century, Studies Say

Photographic and scientific evidence shows that the melting third pole is still devastating the region

New Report: Turbid Water Stirs Up Future of Insecurity for Asia

Asia faces unprecedented water challenges, experts say, but solutions are within reach.

Himalayan Yeti Absent from the Headwaters of Asia’s rivers?

Habitat loss, water diversion projects, and modern life threaten unknown primate.

China, Tibet, and the Strategic Power of Water

Pollution and global warming threaten Asia’s most important freshwater source.

Energy

China Looks to Increase Hydropower to Meet Clean Energy Goals

While the superpower announces ambitious sustainability goals, it faces droughts and intensive energy needs.

Drought, Climate Change Jeopardize Global Hydropower Policies

Less precipitation + more extreme droughts = electricity shortages.

Chinese Farms Generate More Water Pollution than Factories

Study shows 2007 discharges were double previous estimates.

Energy from Water: New Dam Projects Proposed in Tibet

China plans to build a string of new dams throughout Tibet.

Flooding

NASA Compiling Landslide Database to Improve Disaster Response

Landslides killed thousands in Asia last week; NASA researchers are developing a tool for relief efforts.

Flooding Continues to Devastate Pakistan

Misery in Pakistan mounts as flooding hinders relief efforts; threatens to spread waterborne diseases.

Flooding Kills Hundreds in Pakistan

Heavy monsoon rains in Pakistan have caused rivers to overflow—triggering landslides, destroying villages and blocking rescue efforts.

Flooding Tests Three Gorges Dam, Pollutes Songhua River in China

Chemical pollution is the latest calamity as heavy rains continue to blanket the country with floods.

China’s Oil Spill Threatens International Waters

The world’s largest energy consuming country is plagued by potential ecological damage.

Read more Himalayas Flooding stories...

Political Tension

India Supreme Court Again Pushes National River Linking Project to Proceed

This is the second time the court has promoted the mega-project that would link the major rivers in the north with those in the south as a way to better manage water, moving it from areas of perceived surplus to areas without sufficient supplies.

Secretary Clinton Announces Pakistan Water Program

U.S. aid projects focus on city water systems, clean drinking water, dam construction and irrigation.

India and Pakistan Dispute Water Use for Hydropower, Agriculture

India strives to redirect water, currently used for Pakistani agriculture, on the Kishanganga River for 330 megawatts.

Pakistan Raises Water Issue During Diplomatic Talks with India

Pakistan officials argue India’s dam-building violate the Indus River Treaty.

Pakistan Negotiates Domestic, International Water Disputes

Indus River System Authority discuss the Sindh province’s accusation that Punjab is stealing water.

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Presses India for Water Deal During Visit

No agreement was signed, but Bangladesh continued to push for a deal similar to the Ganges Treaty.

Read more Himalayas Politics stories...

Multi-Media

Photo Slideshow: The Hindu Kush-Himalayan Region

Images from the Hindu Kush-Himalayan region–including Bhutan, Nepal, China, Tibet and India

Photo Slideshow: Stunning Water Images from the European Space Agency

Images from space including the Ganges River in the Himalayas and the Fox Basin in the Canadian Arctic.

Water Pollution

Chinese Farms Generate More Water Pollution than Factories

Study shows 2007 discharges were double previous estimates.

Mekong River Dolphins Near ‘Brink of Extinction’

The river pollution could come from any of six Southeast Asian countries inhabiting 300 million people.

Read more Himalayas Water Pollution stories...

Economics

Pakistan Installs Country’s First Urban Rainwater Harvesting System

Pakistan’s first urban rainwater harvesting system has been installed in the capital city Islamabad.

Water Projects Emphasized in $7.5 Billion-U.S. Aid Package to Pakistan

Improved irrigation systems and water infrastructure projects are primary goals.

US Company Targets Bhutan’s Mineral Water

An American firm is negotiating for the exclusive rights to sell Bhutanese mineral water outside of South Asia.

India Turns to Imports to Refill Depleted Food Stocks

India is taking major steps to alleviate the effects of its devastating drought.

Drought

Peter Gleick: Climate Change, Snow and Ice, and Water Resources

One of the reasons that climate change is such a big issue is because the global climate is an integral part of the Earth’s entire ecosystem, tied to so many of the big and little things that society cares about.

Drought in India Forces Talk of User Fees, Rainwater Harvesting

Fierce heat has allegedly killed dozens as country awaits arrival of monsoons.

China Resettles 300,000 for Plans to Redirect Water to Combat Drought

Nearly 1.5 million people in the Hunan and Guangdong provinces have reported drinking water shortages.

Drought and Deluge: Food Supplies in an Era of Climate Change

Agriculture in South and Southeast Asia affected by increasing temperatures and erratic water.

Read more Himalayas Drought stories...

Agriculture

Heavy Rainfall Hampers Tea Markets in India and Sri Lanka

Severe weather impacts could compromise tea farming for two of the world’s biggest players in the industry.

Drought-resistant Rice Reaps Success in India

A new variety of rice might prepare India’s agriculture for a drier future.

Sugar Futures Up, as Drought in India Threatens Supplies

The price rose to a three-year high of 19.4 cents per-pound.

Lowest Rainfalls in Over Two Decades Leave India’s Largest State Unplanted

Monsoon rainfall is the lowest in over 20 years.

Drought Boils Bitter Cup of Tea for India

Significantly reduced tea production in comparison with the first three months of 2008.

Down and Drought: Billions Needed to Rescue China’s Agriculture

China has not seen weather this dry in 50 years.

Health

Monsoon Season, Water Shortages Worsen Health Conditions in Nepal

The Nepalese government plans to improve sanitation access to combat water-borne diseases.

Indian Cities Face Sanitation Challenge

A recent survey on sanitation in India’s cities reveals the need for dramatic changes.

Downpours, Contaminated Water Sicken Thousands in China

Torrential rains are causing deaths and wreaking havoc in several regions of China.

Reports

Foundations

Regional News

Special Reports

  •    Bulk Water Exports

  •    Reign of Sand

  •    Himalayas Melting

  •    Tehuacan

  •    China Karst

  •    WaterViews

  •    Asian Carp

  •    Biggest Dry

  •    Patagonia