Glacier retreat (Representational Image)Wikimedia commons

China's polluted air isn't the only environmental issue plaguing the country.

According to Dr. Qin Xiang and his colleagues at a research facility in the Qilian Mountains in northwest China, rising temperatures will have an adverse effect on the Mengke Glacier, a water resource for the country and Asia.

"The thing most sensitive to climate change is a glacier," The New York Times quoted Dr. Qin as saying. "In the 1970s, people thought glaciers were permanent. They didn't think that glaciers would recede. They thought this glacier would endure. But then the climate began changing, and temperatures climbed," said the 42-year-old researcher.

Asia's water supply, apart from that of China's, is in jeopardy due to the rising temperatures as western and northwest China faces the threat of glacier retreat. The effect is going to be equally brazen on the Himalayas and the connected mounting ranges.

Towns and cities on the Silk Road have faced landslides and floods due to unprecedented summer rainstorms.

Changes in the environment are bound to affect the ecosystem of the Tibet-Qinghai Plateau, shaking the infrastructure of even the highest railway system in China which goes up to Lhasa, as the permafrost is expected to melt.

China released a report on climate change in November, which had detailed reports about the disastrous consequences that floods and water level rising in the coastal areas submerging its urban centres could have.

The report said that more than 80% of the permafrost on the Tibet-Qinghai Plateau could vanish in the next hundred years. A 1.3-5 degree Celsius increase in temperature is expected in China.

China's enthusiastic role in the Paris climate talks is a direct result of its scientists calling for attention. Even as the talks proceeded, China on Monday went on red alert as the air in Beijing shot up to highest levels in pollution. 

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