Published online by Cambridge University Press: 04 May 2017
Asia, a region grappling with the impacts of climate change, increasing natural disasters, and transboundary water issues, faces major challenges to water security. Water resources there are closely tied to the dramatic Hindu-Kush Himalayan (HKH) mountain range, where over 46,000 glaciers hold some of the largest repositories of fresh water on earth (Qiu 2010). Often described as the water tower of Asia, the HKH harbors the snow and ice that form the headwaters of the continent's major rivers (Bandyopadhyay 2013). Downstream, this network of river systems sustains more than 1.3 billion people who depend on these freshwater sources for their consumption and agricultural production, and increasingly as a source of hydropower (Immerzeel, Van Beek, and Bierkens 2010; National Research Council 2012; Rasul 2014).