Pakistan’s North Faces Threat of Floods From Rapidly Melting Glaciers
With over 7,000 glaciers, the country's northern region is witnessing formations of hundreds of glacial lakes amid climate change that has put millions of people at risk of flooding
With global temperatures surging, the world is facing immense danger from rising sea levels. Even the mountainous regions of South Asian country Pakistan are unsafe from global warming and consequential flooding. Melting glaciers in Pakistan are creating glacial lakes in the north of the country. The government has notified that 33 of these lakes – located in parts of the Himalayas, Hindu Kush, and Karakoram mountain ranges in Pakistan – are likely to burst and release millions of cubic meters of water within the matter of a few hours, endangering millions of people.
According to the Pakistani government, at least 16 glacial lake outburst floods associated with heatwaves have transpired this year. The flood-triggered devastation by such incidents has made recovery for impacted communities a difficult task.
In the month of May, the intense heatwave in the continent brought doom to the village of Hassanabad in Pakistan. The mountain village suffered at the hands of a melting glacier outburst. Nine homes were swept away while half a dozen were damaged in the floods, and displaced the people of the remote village.
As per the Global Climate Risk Index by the environmental NGO Germnawatch, the world’s eighth most vulnerable nation to extreme weather caused by climate change. The country is observing hotter and repeated heatwaves. The UN Development Programme holds the lack of information on glacial changes in the country that makes it incredibly hard to predict threats instigated by them.
The mountain communities in northern Pakistan depend on livestock, orchards, farms, and tourism for their livelihood, all of which are threatened by the climate crisis.
Aisha Khan, head of the Mountain and Glacier Protection Organization, which researches glaciers in Pakistan, said;
In 2040 we could start facing problems of (water) scarcity that could lead to drought and desertification — and before that we may have to cope with frequent and intense riverine flooding, and of course flash floods.
What is even sadder is that the developing country is responsible for less than one percent of carbon emissions yet has to bear the harshest brunt of the rising temperatures. Pakistan must map its vulnerable areas and formulate policies to predict the threats emerging from the melting glaciers in the north.