FIGURE 1.1 The Hindu-Kush Himalayan region extends over 2,000 km across South Asia and includes all or parts of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Nepal, and Pakistan. The region is the source of many of Asia’s major rivers, including the Indus, Ganges, and Brahmaputra.

this region are retreating at rates comparable to those in other parts of the world, but are relatively stable, and perhaps even advancing, in parts of the western Himalayas. These findings, the findings of recent reviews by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID, 2010) and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD, 2011b), and evidence presented later in this report bring into question the results of several earlier studies: one suggested that the glaciers of the HKH would disappear altogether by 2035; another suggested that the origins of accelerated glacial wastage lie with the Medieval Warm Period1 that occurred over a thousand years ago. Neither of these assertions is supported by scientific evidence, and they have served to create unnecessary confusion. There is also confusion about the ultimate implications of these changes for domestic, industrial,


1 The Medieval Warm Period was a period of warmer climate in much of northern Europe, the North Atlantic, southern Greenland, and Iceland. It lasted from roughly A.D. 950 to 1250. It is the “Medieval” Warm Period because it coincided with Europe’s Middle Ages (AMS, 2000).

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