With no obvious halt on greenhouse gases emission and mindless deforestation, the temperature of the earth has been rising for the last two centuries, and it has risen more rapidly in the last two decades. This global warming has triggered severe climate change patterns all over the world. Being one of the most sensitive ecosystems, the climate change impacts are rather palpable on the mountains than the terrestrial habitats.
Our mountains are home to 15 per cent population of the world. Vanishing mountain ice and snow caps all across the planet threatens the supply of fresh water to billions of people who depend on it for their livelihood, agricultural activities and for life in general. Outside the Arctic and the Antarctic, the glaciers in the Himalayas and Hindukush mountains store most water in the world. With the rising temperature at the mountains, the melting snowcaps have made its people more susceptible to deadly flooding, food insecurity and power outages affecting the economy and mass displacement; and all these events are estimated to lash the region within the next thirty years! Scientists say that one-third of these glaciers are expected to melt by the end of this century. This would change monsoon patterns, river systems, and agricultural systems in the region which would have dire consequences for the entire ecosystem.
The effects of climate change could be felt in the Alps in Europe too. Glaciers have been retreating, leading to lesser ice and snow cover. With thawing permafrost, the slopes have been loosening making the region more prone to landslides and rockfalls. The changes in rain and snowfall patterns will make the region more vulnerable to floods and avalanches. A nation like Switzerland which relies heavily on tourism for its economy may lose most of its ski resorts as it is estimated that by the mid of this century, there would not be enough snow for skiing in some of its Alpine villages.
Further in Alaska, North America, climate change has affected the temperature and precipitation rate which has made the glaciers respond in this area rather negatively. These melting glaciers would contribute to global sea-level rise. In one of the greatest mountains in the world, the African Mount Kilimanjaro, the snow has been dramatically shrinking and scientists believe that it could be gone completely by the end of the century.
This calls for necessary climate adaptations for the people in the regions which depend on these mountainous assets. The communities in the developing countries are in a rather vulnerable position as most of the population in the mountains do not have advanced weather forecasting systems to warn them of an impending flood or other extreme weather events. The lives and livelihood of these communities are also at risk as tourism is the main source of income for most. Climatologists have been warning people and asking world leaders around the world to take immediate measures. However, the response from them has been lukewarm so far as most of them do not have any sense of what kind of trouble their future has in store for them. Unless the policymakers and government authorities take actions to make their people adaptive to these future climate events, there will be disasters at large scale ensuing political, economic and social unrest.