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River flows from Tibetan plateau may not dry up in coming decades: Study

New Delhi : Water supplies on the Tibetan Plateau, a major source of Asia’s major rivers, will remain stable, and possibly even increase in coming decades, a new research study has said, casting aside findings fom several previous studies that warned climate change will cause Himalayan glaciers to disappear and lead to a significant decline in water supplies in the rivers in the near future.

More than 1.4 billion people depend on waters from these rivers for their survival.

Research from Sweden’s University of Gothenburg researchers modeled upstream water flows in the Yellow, Yangtze, Mekong, Salween (Thanlwin), Brahmaputra and Indus rivers, using data from past decades and simulations for future decades.

They found that the water flows would either remain stable or increase compared to flows between 1971-2000. Increased precipitation and meltwater from glaciers and snowfall could contribute to the increased water flows.

"This mistaken claim and the subsequent debate pointed to a need for a better understanding of the dynamics of climate, glaciers and future water supplies in the region," said Department of Earth Sciences, University of Gothenburg professor Deliang Chen.

Chen led a research group that worked in close collaboration with researchers from the Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

In the study, “Hydrological response to future climate changes for the major upstream river basins in the Tibetan Plateau,” published in the latest issue of the journal Global and Planetary Change, he said the results were good news for social and economic development in China, India, Nepal and other Southeast Asian countries, “but the fact that the glaciers are shrinking in the region could be a concern in the longer term, and we must keep a close eye on what is happening with global warming."

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