Himalayan glaciers melting far faster this century
Climate change threatens Himalayan glaciers
Scientists have long been trying to establish how quickly rising global temperatures caused by the burning of coal, oil and gas are eating away at the region's icebound landscapes, sometimes referred to as Earth's third pole.
In pic: Wind blows snow off the summit at dusk of the world's highest mountain Mount Everest, also known as Qomolangma, in the Tibet Autonomous Region.
Rapidly melting glaciers
This is the clearest picture yet of how fast Himalayan glaciers are melting over this time interval.
In pic: A general view of Mount Thamserku as seen from Khumjung village at the Mount Everest area in Nepal.
What will happen in near future?
Seasonal flows of runoff appear to be increasing for the time being as glaciers degrade. But scientists fear what is likely to happen as time goes on: a gradual dwindling of water supplies to densely-populated floodplains in India, Pakistan and China, potentially stoking local and international tensions.
In pic: Mount Everest (C), the world highest peak, and other peaks of the Himalayan range are seen from air during a mountain flight from Kathmandu.
Global carbon emissions hit a record high last year. Climate models suggest that existing pledges made by governments to try to bend the emissions curve downwards still fall far short of the rapid transformational economic change needed to prevent climate impacts worsening by many orders of magnitude.
Joseph Shea, a glacial geographer at the University of Northern British Columbia, said the findings demonstrated that even glaciers in the world's highest mountains were being affected by higher temperatures.
"In the long term, this will lead to changes in the timing and magnitude of streamflow in a heavily populated region," Shea said.