After the polar ice caps, the Himalayas have the largest amount of glaciers. More than thirty thousand sq. km of the Himalayan region is covered by the glaciers that can provide around 8.6 million cubic meters of water every year. Rivers, including the Ganga, the Indus, the Brahmaputra, the Salween, the Mekong, the Yangtze and the Yellow river are fed by glaciers in the Himalayas. Millions of people rely on this annual water supply to survive.
The European Alps are one of the most densely populated mountain chains in the world. The Southern Alps of Switzerland are a region in which rapid glacial loss is occurring with a variety of potential consequences for human health and sustainability. There are extensive human settlements and infrastructure that exist within the glacial regions of Switzerland and the melting of these glaciers will likely increase with a warming climate.
The glaciers of the Tianshan Mountains are a major water source for northwestern China and other neighboring countries, such as Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan but rapid glacial retreat is occurring due to global warming. Among the glaciers in Tianshan Mountains, glacier No. 1 stands out because it is only 120 km from the regional capital of Urumqi; the closest glacier to an urban area in the world. Consequently, its rapid retreat in recent years has impacted nearby populations.
The Northern and Southern Patagonian Icefields straddle the southern border of Chile and Argentina. Together, they represent one of the most extensive concentrations of non-polar ice in the world. The rates of thinning and calving within the icefields are increasing as a whole, which may result in a variety of unwanted consequences within this environmentally sensitive region.