Study: Global Warming Will Increase Water Availability in Himalayan Watersheds

Published August 5, 2013

Water availability in watersheds fed by the Himalayan Mountains will likely increase for at least the duration of the present century, scientists report in the peer-reviewed Nature Geoscience. The findings debunk claims by global warming activists that global warming is reducing water supplies to more than a billion people in the Indus and Ganges River watersheds.

Data Applied to Climate Models
Walter Immerzeel, a physical geographer at Utrecht University, led a team of scientists who collected glacier runoff data and precipitation data in the Himalayas and the Baltoro and Langtang glaciers. The two glaciers feed the Indus and Ganges rivers, respectively. After collecting real-world glacier runoff data and precipitation data and applying them to climate models utilized by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the scientists report water availability will increase for at least the duration of the century.

The scientists’ findings apply to the latest generation of climate models utilized by the IPCC. IPCC lead author Hans von Storch reported in a July 2013 interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel that IPCC computer models have predicted more warming than has occurred in the real world and IPCC will likely have to revise downward its global warming predictions. These revisions will in all likelihood further improve the water availability outlook in the Himalayas and the Indus and Ganges River basins.

The newly published study is particularly noteworthy because lead author Immerzeel previously predicted global warming would result in a decrease of water availability in the two river basins. Global warming activists will have to retract alarmist predictions regarding water availability based on Immerzeel’s prior research or explain why Immerzeel’s most up-to-date research is on less solid footing than his prior predictions.

More Precipitation as Planet Warms
As the planet continues a moderate warming in its recovery from the Little Ice Age, the warmer conditions are inducing more evaporation from the world’s oceans, which in turn leads to more precipitation over land masses. Global precipitation has risen steadily during the past century, leading to an increase in global soil moisture in virtually all measuring stations in the Global Soil Moisture Databank. In the Himalayas, the enhanced hydrological cycle is resulting in more snowfall in Himalayan mountain ranges where glaciers are fed by moist Indian Ocean air. At lower elevations, more frequent precipitation is reducing dependence on glacial-fed rivers such as the Indus and Ganges.

“This newest study continues a pattern of sound science defeating ‘spaghetti-on-the-wall’ alarmist global warming claims,” said Jay Lehr, science director for The Heartland Institute, which publishes Environment & Climate News. “Global warming activists issue sensationalist, catastrophic, nonstop predictions about a plethora of alleged global warming impacts, generating a great deal of media publicity in the process, only to have sound science thereafter debunk the claims. They throw as much spaghetti on the wall as possible and count on the media sensationalizing the small amount of spaghetti that sticks on the wall for a small amount of time.”

“The truth is global warming is resulting in more frequent rainfall that benefits water-stressed regions. Global warming activists would have people believe that nothing good can come from a modestly warmer planet, but the scientific evidence tells a completely different story,” said Lehr.

James M. Taylor ([email protected]) is managing editor of Environment & Climate News.