Potential rises in global temperature are likely to have major impacts on high altitude environments, including glacier recession and permafrost degradation. In turn, these could have far-reaching impacts on riverine sediment flux. Such impacts are emerging in the Himalayas and Tibet Plateau region, one of the world's largest and most environmentally-sensitive cold regions. Closer monitoring is urgently required to track changing trends of sediment load from the interactions of glacial recession treat, rainfall changes and human interventions, and to study the implications of such changes for the large Asian river systems of the region. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.