Observed Changes in Himalayan Glaciers (2014)

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In the Himalaya, large areas are covered by glaciers and seasonal snow. They are an important source of water for the Himalayan rivers. In this article, observed changes in glacial extent and mass balance have been discussed. Various studies suggest that most of the Himalayan glaciers are retreating though the rate of retreat varies from glacier to glacier, ranging from a few meters to almost 61 m/year, depending upon the terrain and meteorological parameters. In addition, mapping of almost 11,000 out of 40,000 sq. km of glaciated area, distributed in all major climatic zones of the Himalaya, suggests an almost 13% loss in area in the last 4–5 decades. The glacier mass balance observations and estimates made using methods like field, AAR, ELA and geodetic measurements, suggest a significant increase in mass wastage of Himalayan glaciers in the last 3–4 decades. In the last four decades loss in glacial ice has been estimated at 19 ± 7 m. This suggests loss of 443 ± 136 Gt of glacial mass out of a total 3600–4400 Gt of glacial stored water in the Indian Himalaya. This study has also shown that mean loss in glacier mass in the Indian Himalaya is accelerated from –9 ± 4 to –20 ± 4 Gt/year between the periods 1975–85 and 2000–2010. The estimate of glacial stored water in the Indian Himalaya is based on glacier inventory on a 1 : 250,000 scale and scaling methods; therefore, we assume uncertainties to be large.
Year: 2014
Language: English
In: Current Science, 106 (2): 237-244 p.

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Note: Open Access


 Record created 2014-04-10, last modified 2014-09-11