Fires in Nepal May Be Caused by Global Warming
The forest fires that flared unusually viciously in many of Nepal’s national parks and conserved areas this dry season have left conservationists worrying if climate change played a role, reports the BBC.
At least four protected areas were on fire for an unusually long time until the beginning of April. Most of the big fires were in and around the national parks along the country’s northern areas bordering Tibet, harming flora and fauna. The carbon dioxide emitted by the fires was a strong matter of concern, according to Nepal’s WWF office.
Forest fires in Nepal’s jungles and protected areas are not uncommon during the dry season between October and January. However, the director of Nepal’s Department of Hydrology and Meteorology noted that winters have become progressively drier over the last three or four years, with this year setting a new dryness record. For nearly six months, no precipitation has fallen across most of the country – the longest dry spell in recent history, according to meteorologists.
Most of the fires come about as a consequence of the “slash and burn” practice that farmers employ for better vegetation and agricultural yields. However, this time the fires remained out of control even in the national parks in the Himalayan region where this practice is uncommon.
Nepal’s Department of Hydrology and Meteorology suggested that the increasing dryness in recent years that led to so much fire this season is one of the effects of climate change. Other climate change experts were more cautious about drawing conclusions due to the fact that there have been no proper studies of the impacts of climate change in Nepal and the entire Hindu Kush Himalayas.
However, limited studies have shown that temperature in the Himalayas has been increasing on average by 0.06 degrees annually, causing glaciers to melt and retreat faster. The meltdown has been rapidly filling up many glacial lakes that could break their moraines and burst out, sweeping away everything downstream.
In Nepal and neighbouring countries, these “glacial lake outburst floods” and monsoon-related floods resulting from erratic rainfalls are at present the most talked-about disasters in the context of climate change.