Climate change impacts in Nepal

Climate change impacts in Nepal - what the IPCC 4th Assessment Report has found:
  • Risk of GLOFs (Glacial Lake Outburst Floods) in Nepal: starting to reduce the risks of GLOFs by draining water from glacier lakes [18.xcl].
  • Glacial lake size: Lake Tsho Rolpa in Nepal Himalayas has increased from 0.23 km2 to 1.65 km2 (1957-1997) [1.3.1.1].
  • Serious and recurrent floods during 2002, 2003 and 2004 [Table 10.3]
  • Temperature and decreases in precipitation along with increasing water use have caused water shortages that led to drying up of lakes and rivers [10.2.4.2]
Mount Everest (8848 meters), Nepal. / ©: WWF-Canon / NEYRET & BENASTAR
Mount Everest (8848 meters), Nepal.
© WWF-Canon / NEYRET & BENASTAR

WWF work

What WWF is doing on the ground in Nepal to protect against climate change:
It is widely confirmed that climate change is the main factor behind the accelerated glacier retreat observed in the Himalayas.

Continued climate change is predicted to lead to major changes in freshwater flows with dramatic impacts on biodiversity, people and their livelihoods.

Glacier melting leads to an increase in water discharge, which is expected to increase the frequency of catastrophic flooding events such as glacier lake outburst floods (GLOF).

These events can have devastating consequences to infrastructure like bridges, dams and powerhouses, and communities living at downstream.

In the long-term, there might be a 'tipping point' as glacier runoff begins to decrease with massive freshwater availability implications; perennial rivers could change into seasonal streams causing freshwater scarcity in the dry months.

In response, this project aims to
  1. validate existing glacial scientific research on climate change,
  2. monitor glacial retreat and changes in the freshwater regime in the region,
  3. develop a prediction model for glacial behavior under different climatic scenarios,
  4. develop a Freshwater Vulnerability Assessment for selected key sector, communities and ecosystems,
  5. develoFreip community driven management response, and
  6. communicate local climate impact stories through the WWF network to raise the sense of urgency on climate change.

Glacier lake outburst flood (GLOF) monitoring and freshwater impacts are key projects in Nepal.

See China and India too.

WWF contacts

Climate Witnesses

WWF runs the Climate Witness programme to collect people's local observations of climate change that are then verified by scientists.

Ang Tshering Sherpa lives in the Solu Khumbu district of Nepal where many trekkers stop to acclimatize to the high altitude. Since he started a trekking business 25 years ago, he has witnessed the formation of new, large glacial lakes from increased snow melt. These lakes are getting so large that they could burst and put many lives at risk.
"Climbing Everest has become a fashion. And you can see for yourself that is has become so easy today.I hear they can do it in eight hours", says the Abbot of Tengboche monastery. "This is because there is less snow. The glaciers are shrinking rapidly..."

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Donate to WWF

Your support will help us build a future where humans live in harmony with nature.