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Glacial Retreat in Himalaya Using Indian Remote Sensing Satellite Data

  • Kulkarni, A. V.

Himalayas possess one of the largest resources of snow and ice, which act as a huge freshwater reservoir. Monitoring the glaciers is important to assess the overall reservoir health. In this investigation glacial retreat was estimated for 466 glaciers in Chenab, Parbati and Baspa basins from 1962. Expeditions to Chhota Shigri, Patsio and Samudra Tapu glaciers in Chenab basin, Parbati glacier in Parbati basin and Shaune Garang glacier in Baspa basin were organized to identify and map glacial terminus. The investigation has shown, an overall reduction in glacier area from 2077 sq km to 1628 sq km from 1962, an overall deglaciation of 21 percent. However, number of glaciers is increased due to fragmentation. Mean of glacial extent was reduced from 1.4 to 0.32 km2 between 1962 and 2001. In addition, number of glaciers with higher areal extent is reduced and lower areal extent has been increased between the periods. Small glaciarates and ice fields have shown extensive deglaciation. For example, 127 glaciarates and ice fields less than 1 km2 have shown retreat of 38 percent from 1962, possibly due to small response time. This means combination glacial fragmentation, higher retreat of small glaciers and climate change are influencing sustainability of Himalayan glaciers.

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