New Delhi, June 17 -- Unusually low snowfall this year in the Hindu Kush Himalayas (HKH) could have serious implications for downstream communities, including over 600 million people living in the Gangetic river basin in India, according to new research by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) released on Sunday.

"Snow melt contributes to 10.3% in the Ganga river basin, while glacier melt contributes 3.1%, so comparatively, the contribution from snow is quite significant," said Sher Muhammad, lead author of HKH snow update 2024.

"This lower snow this year may affect water availability if there is less rainfall in the early season, as the snowmelt contribution primarily contributes early in the summer season...