Keeping in view vulnerability of Himachal Pradesh towards climatic hazards, the State Centre for Climate Change will map all glaciers and glacial lakes in the Himalayan region in the state with the help of the Space Applications Centre.
Mapping of glaciers in the Sutlej basin has been completed and the data would be compiled soon. After compiling data for glaciers and lakes in Sutlej basin, mapping of other glacier basins in the state will be initiated. Earlier, Space Applications Centre had started glacier mapping in Sutlej basin by using Indian Remote Sensing Satellite (IRSS) data.
SS Randhawa, senior scientist at the State Centre for Climatic Change, told HT that the aim of mapping glaciers and glacial lakes was to keep track of the size and formation of new lakes. "We will collect new data and see where the formation of new lakes has occurred and what is the time and rate of receding of glaciers," he said.
In view of susceptibility of the state to climatic hazards, he said, such studies are important.
A study of Geological Survey of India (GSI) had revealed that the size of Geepang Gath glacial lake, located at an altitude of over 14,000 feet uphill Sissu village, was increasing. The lake's size, which was 0.27 sq km in 1976, had increased to 0.81 sq km in 2013.
Randhawa said the Sutlej basin mapping revealed there were 391 lakes in the basin starting from China while the number was 38 in 1993. Sharp receding of glaciers in Sutlej basin has raised the concern of environment scientists. "There are more lakes in Tibetan region than in India," he said.
The latest study about the Sutlej glacier revealed that there were 334 glaciers with a total area of 1,515 sq km. There are now over 1990 permanent snowfields with total area of 1182 sq km.
As per a study conducted in 2013, the areal extent of the lake was 0.81 sq km while it was 0.50 sq km in 1998, 0.42 sq km in 1990 and 0.27 sq km in 1996.
He also said that in Chenab basin, there were 116 glacial lakes while Ravi basin has 22 lakes. Jiwa basin has 39 lakes, Chandra sub-basin has 19, and Bhaga sub-basin has 14 while Parbati sub-basin has 29 glacial lakes.
Randhawa said mapping of glaciers and glacial lakes would be done in the wake of collection of fresh data about the increase and decrease in their sizes. "At some places glaciers melt fast while somewhere the process is slow," he said and added that melting and formation is a normal process and therefore the mapping is required on a regular basis to assess the resizing.
Glaciers were receding fastly in Spiti basin because they were directly exposed to the sun rays. Most of other glaciers were covered with debris which is protecting glaciers from direct rays and also increase the retreat time.