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Amarnath meltdown

Glaciologists are skeptical that global warming is to be blamed for the damp squib at Amarnath this year.

india Updated: Jun 23, 2006 03:08 IST

Glaciologists are skeptical that global warming is to be blamed for the damp squib at Amarnath this year.

There could be several reasons for the shiv linga not forming this year — inadequate snowfall, melting due to high temperature, the delay in snow formation, says rormer director of glaciology, Geological Survey of India, Deepak Srivastava said.

The Amarnath cave is formed of limestone and calcareous rocks. When snow melts on top of the cave, water seeps inside and trickles down. Due to the fall in pressure and the low temperature in the cave, the water again freezes on the ground, growing over time into  a shiv linga, not one but many.

The global warming theory does not seem plausible, Srivastava said. "It cannot be possible that global warming only takes place on the roof of the cave. Even now one can see ice in the tracks from photographs of the area.”  Another important reason could be clogging and blocking of the main capillary system through which water flowed into the cave due to dust and soil, he added.

VK Raina, glaciologist and retired Deputy Director General Geological Survey of India echoing the views. The process of shiva linga formation starts in December - January. “It fully forms by July and then starts melting. By early September you did not see a shiva linga,” he added.

There are two possible reasons for the linga not forming this year: less snowfall and clogging of cracks through which water percolates down.

“One must compare satellite  pictures of snow fall of past 4- 5 years and relate them to size of shiva lingas  formed because less snow fall has been a regular  feature for nearly 10 years,” he added.

One must find out if there are any blockages in the fissures through which water percolates  down or any diversion of the water, he said. As cave water falls into  Amarganga waterfall about half a kilometer away, one must see if there is less water there this year to draw a conclusion, he  added.

Or maybe, as many shocked devotees would like to believe, miracles have abandoned this age of skepticism.