Parts of Asia face irreversible declines in freshwater storage

  • 16.08.2022

The Tibetan Plateau – known as the “water tower of Asia” – currently supplies freshwater for almost two billion people living downstream. A new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change has found that climate change may cause irreversible declines in freshwater storage in this region, leading to a total collapse of the water supply for central Asia and Afghanistan, and a near-total collapse for Northern India, Kashmir, and Pakistan by 2060.

“The prognosis is not good,” said study senior author Michael Mann, a distinguished professor of Atmospheric Science at the Pennsylvania State University. “In a ‘business as usual’ scenario, where we fail to meaningfully curtail fossil fuel burning in the decades ahead, we can expect a near collapse – that is, nearly 100 percent loss – of water availability to downstream regions of the Tibetan Plateau. I was surprised at just how large the predicted decrease is even under a scenario of modest climate policy.”