Vastness of Tibetan Plateau; Cities of Northern India27.4N 84.9E
The populated cities of northern India (below) stand in contrast to the seemingly vacant terrain of the Tibetan Plateau (above), a vast, elevated plateau covering most of the Tibet Autonomous Region and Qinghai Province in western China, as well as part of Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir.
It stretches approximately 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) north to south and 2,500 kilometres (1,600 mi) east to west. With an average elevation exceeding 4,500 metres (14,800 ft), the Tibetan Plateau is sometimes called “the Roof of the World” and is the world’s highest and largest plateau, with an area of 2,500,000 square kilometres (970,000 sq mi).
The Tibetan Plateau contains the world’s third-largest store of ice. Experts have warned that the recent fast pace of melting and warmer temperatures will be good for agriculture and tourism in the short term; but issued a strong warning for the future: temperatures are rising four times faster than elsewhere in China, and the Tibetan glaciers are retreating at a higher speed than in any other part of the world. First, this will cause lakes to expand and bring floods and mudflows. In the long run, the glaciers are vital lifelines for Asian rivers, including the Indus and the Ganges. Once they vanish, water supplies in those regions will be in peril.