Arctic Pole, Antarctic Pole and?
In school, our geography textbooks introduced us to the six continents; Asia, Africa, Australia, the Americas, and Antarctica. Having a reputation of being the only continent to be entirely covered with ice, Antarctica, as well as the Arctic Sea in the north are considered to be the polar caps of our planet (Did you know that Mars too has its own set of polar caps?). A polar ice cap or polar cap is the region of a planet covered entirely in ice.
But is it possible that there is a third pole we are unaware of? Are there other parts of the planet that have enough ice cover to be considered as the ‘Third Pole’?
The Hindu Kush-Himalayan Region is the world's third-largest repository of ice, after the North and South Poles and fits this bill entirely. Spread across 8 nations viz. Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Pakistan, this region is also called the ‘Water Towers of Asia’ as it contains some of the world’s highest mountains including Mt. Everest and is the source of 10 major rivers like the Ganga, Yamuna and the Brahmaputra.
Just like our Polar Caps, the glaciers of this region are rapidly melting because of the collective effect of industrialization, global warming, and climate change. But the melting of polar ice-caps can submerge coastal areas, whereas melting of these glaciers can be disastrous for those living downstream of the rivers that originate here, one such incident observed was the flash-flood observed in Kedarnath (Uttarakhand) in 2013. And thus for India, global warming and climate change can bring havoc from all four sides.
To protect and conserve the Hindu Kush-Himalayan Region, the former prime minister of Bhutan has called for the formation of an intergovernmental agency to tackle this issue, it is now up to our government to take an active stance to save the ice before its too late.
Swanand Gawde, Programme Coordinator
If you want to know more about this region, watch this: https://www.ted.com/talks/tshering_tobgay_an_urgent_call_to_protect_the_worlds_third_pole/transcript?language=en