A team from the Almora-based G.B. Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development that has been monitoring the Himalayan glaciers since 1999, visited the Gangotri glacier between June and October this year. Their latest observation stating that the Gangotri glacier is rapidly and heavily disintegrating, is disheartening to say the least.
“Our team has been observing disintegration in the snout of the Gangotri glacier for around three years now,” Dr. Kireet Kumar, a scientist in the Glacial Study Centre of the institute, said. “This time the team observed that the disintegration on the right side of the snout is taking place at a rapid rate.”
It is due to the rapid melting of the three tributary glaciers of the Gangotri, Raktvarn, Chaturangi and Thelu, which are located at a higher altitude than the Gangotri and are towards its right, that the rapid shrinking is taking place, said Dr Kumar.
One of the largest Himalayan glaciers, the Gangotri is located in Uttarkashi district. The 30.2km-long glacier originates at about 7,100 m above sea level and has a width that varies between 0.5 and 2.5 km. The Bhagirathi river, one of the main tributaries of the Ganga, originates from the massive glacier.
”The Gangotri glacier is retreating like other glaciers in the Himalayas and its volume and size are shrinking as well,” states a 2008 research report published in Current Science titled ‘Estimation of retreat rate of Gangotri glacier using rapid static and kinematic GPS survey.’
In the last 70 years alone, the glacier has retreated more than 1,500 metres (m), with the rate of retreat of the glacier only declining post-1971. According to Dr Kumar, the latest data projects show that post 2000, the average rate of retreat of the glacier per year has been about 12 to 13 m. These fluctuations have already adversely impacted the water discharge to rivers which originate from the glacier.
Dr. Kumar said global warming was not the only factor, but, it was an important factor that was resulting in glacial retreat. The long-standing consequences of this observation by the team are deeply disquieting and ominous for the magnitude of impact it could have on the population. According to a draft UN report due for approval this week, climate change may have “serious, pervasive and irreversible” impacts on human society and nature, a statement that has prompted much international comment and a clamour of questions.
Representatives and delegates from more than 100 governments and top scientists are to meet in Copenhagen between October 27, 2014 and October 31, 2014 to edit this UN report, which is meant to be the main guide for nations working on a U.N. deal to fight climate change at a summit in Paris in late 2015.
via The Hindu