It has become known which regions will be deprived of fresh water by 2060

It has become known which regions will be deprived of fresh water by 2060

The Tibetan highlands, known as the Asian water tower, provide fresh water to nearly 2 billion people who live downstream, a new study conducted by scientists from the University of Pennsylvania and Qinghua, as well as the University of Texas in Austin, has shown that climate change will lead to irreversible reductions in freshwater supplies in the region, resulting in a total collapse of water supply in Central Asia and Afghanistan and almost total collapse in Northern India, Kashmir and Pakistan by the middle of the twenty-first century.

"The forecast is bad," Michael Mann, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Pennsylvania, in a press release for the study. "In the scenario of `normal business management', in which the burning of fossil fuels will not decrease in the coming decades, we predict a 100 per cent loss of water availability for regions downstream of the Tibetan Highlands. Problems are expected even in the case of moderate climate policy."

According to scientists, despite its importance, the impact of climate change on terrestrial water reserves in Tibet Plateau has not been sufficiently studied.

In order to fill the gaps in knowledge, experts used measurements of water mass in glaciers, lakes and underground sources, using neural network-based machine training to the data, and eventually managed to link observed changes in the total water supply to key climate variables, including air temperature, precipitation, humidity, cloud cover and the incoming sunlight. After model training, climatologists predicted changes in freshwater supplies over the next four decades, from 2021 to 2060.

"Tybethe highlands provide a significant proportion of the water needs of nearly 2 billion people," Dee Long, Associate Professor of Hydrological Engineering, University of Qinghua. "The terrestrial water reserves in the region are crucial for the population, but they are highly affected by climate change."