Smaller glaciers, bigger risk
A new study based on the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) data says smaller glaciers are retreating at a faster rate than bigger ones, contrary to an environment and forest ministry report.india Updated: Nov 25, 2009 01:59 IST
A new study based on the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) data says smaller glaciers are retreating at a faster rate than bigger ones, contrary to an environment and forest ministry report.
The ministry had said depletion of Himalayan glaciers had slowed down and some of the glaciers were even advancing.
The joint team of WWF-India and Birla Institute of Technology released the study Witnessing Change: Glaciers in the Indian Himalayas on Tuesday that blamed climate change for faster depletion of glaciers.
The study is based on monitoring of Himalayan glaciers by the Ahmedabad-based Space Application Centre of Isro.
A report of former deputy director general of Geological Survey of India, V.K. Raina, released by Environment minister
Jairam Ramesh early this month had failed to find any link between climate change and melting of glaciers.
The Himalayas are one of the richest ice zones in the world with 9,000 to 12,000 glaciers. But, United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007 said most of these glaciers would melt by 2030 due to global warming.
“Smaller glaciers are vulnerable to local climate variations,” said Ravi Singh, secretary general of WWF-India, who opted for a middle path between the government and IPCC.
“Small glaciers are more likely to face the brunt of the changes in climate owing to their smaller and less snowfall receiving accumulation zones. On the other hand, large glaciers might sustain the impacts for a longer time due to their larger ice volume and bigger accumulation zone.”
The study based on glaciers in five major river basins — Sutlej, Jhelum, Bhagirathi, Brahmaputra and Tista — says glaciers are retreating at an annual rate between 11 meters and 32 meters. “Recent studies from 466 glaciers of the Indian Himalayas indicate that there has been a 21% reduction in the glacierised area — from 2,077 square kilometers (sq km) in 1962 to 1,628 sq km in 2004,” the report said.