Document Type

Honors Paper


Douglas Thompson

Publication Date



The glacial ice in both the Andean and Himalayan Mountain ranges act as water towers for the billions of people that live within their watersheds. Throughout the year, these communities rely on the glacial meltwater to increase the flow of rivers, but this meltwater is the most impactful during the dry season when there is less precipitation. Communities in both the Andes and Himalayas use this glacial meltwater for human and animal consumption, agricultural purposes, and harnessing hydroelectric power as a clean energy source. One of the biggest worries for scientists and people around the world is how climate change affects the ablation rate of these glaciers. The glacial dynamic and water budget are changing in both the Andes and Himalayas and we are losing glacial mass at an alarming rate. In the coming years, some scientists predict that by 2100 or sooner, we will reach a peak melting rate, and the glaciers will be past the point of no return and will melt away completely. Both Andean and Himalayan communities have a strong reliance on glacial meltwater, which is a quickly depleting source of freshwater. There are 1.4 billion people that live within the Himalayan river basins, so about 20 percent of our world's population will be affected. There are millions of farmers within the Himalayan river basins that grow enough food for the billions of people that live within Himalayan the region as a whole. Although drinking water can be shipped in and alternative sources of energy can be used over hydropower, there is no replacement option for the vast amount of water that agriculture needs. For this reason, our society should be most worried about creating plans to help the Himalayan farmers prepare to lose their biggest water source.



The views expressed in this paper are solely those of the author.