Researchers estimated that if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise at the current rate, the glaciers in the Everest mountain region could lose over 70 percent of their volume by the year 2100.

The study warns the famous mountains are extremely sensitive to climate warming, and major ice loss should be anticipated throughout the 21st century, the European Geosciences Union reported.

"The signal of future glacier change in the region is clear: continued and possibly accelerated mass loss from glaciers is likely given the projected increase in temperatures," said Joseph Shea, a glacier hydrologist at the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Kathmandu, Nepal, and leader of the study.

The researchers used a glacier model to show volume could be depleted by between 70 and 99 percent by 2100, depending on how drastically greenhouse gas emissions rise in the future.

"Our results indicate that these glaciers may be highly sensitive to changes in temperature, and that increases in precipitation are not enough to offset the increased melt," Shea said.

Glaciers in the Himalayas and other regions of High Mountain Asia hold the largest concentration of ice outside of polar regions because they boast some of the highest elevations seen on the planet, including Mount Everest. The glaciers in the Dudh Kosi basin also funnel meltwater into the Kosi River, influencing its flow. Changes in glacial volume could potentially impact the availability of water in the region and be bad news for the hydropower and agriculture industries. 

To make their findings, the researchers took field observations and data from local weather stations to create a model of how the glaciers will behave over the next 50 years.

"To examine the sensitivity of [modeled ] glaciers to future climate change, we then applied eight temperature and precipitation scenarios to the historical temperature and precipitation data and tracked how glacier areas and volumes responded," said study co-author Walter Immerzeel of Utrecht University in the Netherlands.

The researchers noted their findings, which were recently published in the journal Cryosphere, should only be taken as an initial approximation of future glacial activity, and many uncertainties still remain.