A team of climate scientists studying the impact of pollution and global warming on the Himalayas is going to extreme lengths in the name of research: In May, the scientists will attempt to climb Mount Everest.
The Western Washington University researchers will acclimatize in the broader Himalayan region over the next two months, according to the Associated Press. After collecting samples of plants and vegetation from the base camp, the five-member team will climb 8,850 meters up the world's tallest mountain — and the neighboring peak Mount Lhotse — to collect samples of ice and snow.
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"We are looking at how climate change has affected vegetation,” lead researcher John All told the AP. “We are also looking at how climate change has affected the snow and water availability for local people.”
A team of American scientists, led by John All of Western Washington University, flew to the Mount Everest region Wednesday to study how pollution has impacted the Himalayan mountains and glaciers that are melting due to global warming: https://t.co/NJXzzauow2pic.twitter.com/bxOEQKObbB— WWU (@WWU) March 27, 2019
The group will specifically examine the exact color of the ice and ratio of dirt in the glacial snow. The research will be collated with studies by local Nepalese universities and government agencies.
"The more dirt there is, the more pollution accumulated on them and the more light absorption there is, and thus the larger impact on the glaciers,” All stated.
In February, the International Centre for Intergrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) released a report that revealed that even if the 2015 paris agreement targets are met, one-third of glaciers in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region — which encompasses Mount Everest — will melt by 2100.
“This is the climate crisis you haven’t heard of,” ICIMOD Report Lead Philippus Wester stated in a media report. “Global warming is on track to transform the frigid, glacier-covered mountain peaks of the region to bare rocks in a little less than a century.”
The Hindu Kush Himalayan region runs throughout Afghanistan, Nepal, Pakistan, China, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Myanmar. According to ICIMOD Director General David Molden, the region's mountains provide the primary source of water for almost 2 billion South Asian citizens.
“The massive size and global significance of the Hindu Kush Himalaya region is indisputable,” Molden stated. “Yet this is the first report to lay down in definitive detail the region’s critical importance to the well-being of billions and its alarming vulnerability, especially in the face of climate change.”