Melting glaciers in the Himalayas release pollutants trapped for decades

A new study highlights how the melting of the Himalayan glaciers can be serious for the environment because the water that melts and that arrives contributes to release into the environment the pollutants accumulated over decades.

This is the result of research published in the Journal of Geophysical Research which analyzes various types of pollutants, such as herbicides and pesticides, which, according to researchers, have been accumulating in the Himalayan glaciers for decades. The latter, dissolving due to global warming in progress, release these pollutants in nature, negatively affecting the environment and even more particularly on aquatic life, accumulating also in the body of fish that can then end up on the tables of local populations.

Himalayan glaciers contain more pollutants trapped in ice than glaciers in other parts of the world because they are very close to the densely populated centers and regions of South Asia that are notoriously among the most polluted regions in the world, as Xiaoping Wang recalls, geochemist of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and author of the study.

The phenomenon of pollutants that remain “trapped” in the ice is a feature well known to scientists; for example, the Arctic ice caps of the Antarctic also suffer from this problem since pollutants can travel even for thousands of kilometers before arriving in the icy areas where they are literally incorporated into the ice. However, it seems that for the Himalayan glaciers this phenomenon is much more alarming.