Worries are mounting as snowfall decreases in Gilgit-Baltistan this winter

GILGIT: Residents of Gilgit-Baltistan region, probably the coldest area in Pakistan, are startled by the sharp decrease in snowfall in the region this winter.

92% of 857 respondents, during a survey conducted by Pamir Times, said that they were worried about lack of snowfall in Gilgit-Baltistan. Only 8 percent of the respondents thought snow will return next year.

Reduction in snowfall, however, is not the only trend observed in GB this year. Overall, the temperatures have been up across the region, compared to last year and the year before.

Gilgit-Baltistan Tourism Department had to reschedule and relocate a major winter sports event because water didn’t freeze enough to build durable ice rinks, said Tourism Secretary Asif Ullah Khan while talking to the media two days back.

Reports of early almond bloom are also being received from different parts of the region, indicating early thaw due to higher-than-normal temperatures.

Report Nisar Abbas, while posting on “X”, said that Deosai plateau, located between Skardu and Astore, has received significantly less snowfall this year. He said that it was time to call a “climate emergency” in Gilgit-Baltistan.

Fears of the impact of global warming and the resultant climate change on Gilgit-Baltistan, which is home to some of the biggest glaciers in the world, have been mounting for years.

A few weeks ago, while talking to Pamir Times, Director for Environmental Protection Agency, Shehzad Shigri, said that data spanning 30 years indicates an annual average temperature rise of 0.5 degrees Celsius and a precipitation decrease of 8.5 mm per year in Gilgit-Baltistan, resulting in a noticeable seasonal shift.

While many believe that the change in weather patterns is caused by climate change, others argue that such cycles of warmer winters often happen, and it might not indicate a permanent change in the climate conditions.

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