Image Source: Flickr. By: Ilkerender

A few years ago, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that melting glaciers would put hundreds of millions of people at risk. However, a recent study published in the journal Science suggests the risk factor is considerably less than previously anticipated.

The main area of focus in the study is the Himalayas and according to the study, about 60 million people in that area will suffer food shortages in future decades. While the glaciers are, indeed, shrinking and water sources will be depleted, the difference between this study and the UN warning has more to do with surrounding basins, rather than the glaciers themselves. These basins depend more on rainfall than runoff from melting glaciers, thus making the impact a bit less than before.

Unfortunately, those that don’t depend on the glaciers are still in a spot of trouble. Places like the Ganges basins could see a 19.6% decrease in their water supply by 2050. However, on the flip-side, places like China’s Yellow River basin will receive a 9.6 increase in rainfall, due to changing monsoon patterns as an effect of Climate Change.

The study is one of the first to research and show the impact of melting glaciers on the Himalayan river basins. You can read a full report of it here.

By Heidi Marshall