Published On: Thu, Jul 21st, 2016

Himalyan Glaciers melting by 5 to 20 m annually

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A majority of glaciers in India, including Gangotri, are melting at varying rates ranging from five to 20 metre per year, the government told the Lok Sabha yesterday.

“The studies carried out by ISRO, Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WIGH), Dehradun, and other institutions have revealed that a majority of the glaciers are retreating (melting) at varying rates from 5 metre to 20 metre per year,” Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha.

He said Gangotri is one of the largest glaciers (30 km) of Uttarkahand, followed by the Satopanth glacier (14 km) and both of these were “retreating” but “not at an alarming rate”.

He said the studies carried out on melting of glaciers by the in-situ measurements as well as remote sensing data indicated that the rate of retreat was “not uniform” for all glaciers.

Dave said the Dokriani glacier in the Bhagirathi basin had been retreating between 15 and 20 metre per year since 1995 while the Chorabari glacier in the Alaknanda basin was retreating 9 metre to 11 metre per year (2003-2014).

He said a study on the length and area changes of 82 glaciers located in the Bhagirathi and Alaknanda river basins had been done for 1968-2006 period using remote sensing data. The study suggests that the glacier area decreased from 599.9 sq km (1968) to 572.5 sq km (2006), implying a net loss of 4.6 per cent of the total area.

However, the glaciers in the Alaknanda basin and the upper Bhagirathi basin lost 18.4 sq km (5.7 per cent) and 9.0 sq km (3.3 per cent), respectively, in the similar period.

“There is no proposal with the government to seek foreign assistance for research on climate change in the Himalayan region,” he said to a question whether the Centre proposes to seek foreign help for research on climate change in the region.

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