Pristine mountains, rolling pastures, spectacular glaciers and mighty rivers. All are located on the roof of the world. Tibet’s environment is precious for its beauty, but also to the Tibetan people who have stewarded it for generations. Yet this is all under threat.
1.5 billion people across Asia rely on the fresh water that flows from Tibet’s glaciers, but this vital ecosystem is under threat. As the largest source of water ice outside of the Arctic and Antarctic, Tibet has been hit hard by climate change, and the situation only stands to get worse unless urgent action is taken.
The Third Pole
The Tibetan Plateau has become known as the Third Pole due to its vast glacial ice resources, providing the source of many of Asia’s largest rivers, including the Brahmaputra, the Ganges, the Mekong and the Yangtze.
However, while South Asia could see a temperature rise of 1°C by the end of the century, the Third Pole region is on track to see a 4.5°C to 5°C rise. The effects of such a dramatic rise in temperature would be devastating. Already a 15% loss of glacial ice has been reported in the Third Pole since the 1970s, if this continues South Asia could be subjected to increased river flows, leading to landslides, unpredictable water supplies, and unstable weather conditions, leaving communities vulnerable.