On Shrinking Glaciers

Jun 2nd, 2014 | By | Category: Development and Climate Change, Glaciers

The valley is gifted by nature with large reservoirs of water in the shape of glaciers.  We Humans have not been able to tap our resources to its hilt. Instead due to pollutants in the atmosphere and emission of poisonous gases, harmful seasonal changes have been brought upon us. Rising temperatures resulting in shrinking of glaciers has the potential to wipe out many areas from the map of the world.
Department of earth sciences in coordination with department of mass communication held a seminar to deliberate on issues related to climate change.

The department of Earth Sciences was established to study the glacier shrinkage in the Himalayan region especially in Kolohoi glacier, which is reportedly shrinking.

Kolohoi glacier is one of the longest glaciers of Kashmir and extended upto 35 kilometres in the past. It lies in the melt-water stream of Kolahoi Glacier known as the west Liddar River, which joins the East Liddar River at Pahalgam (35 km from the snout). Geologists like Grinlinton (lg28), in his study of East Liddar Glacier, has only suggested that a study of West Liddar and Kolahoi Glaciers would be interesting. Middlemiss  and Wadia ( 1934, 1953) have studied the stratigraphy of the areas to the north-west, but most probably they did not visit Kolahoi Glacier.
Kolahoi Glacier is about 5 km long and it flows from the north-west of a neve field covering about 35 km2. At one end of this neve field is the north-eastern cirque of Kolahoi Horn. This neve field also feeds three other glaciers. The easternmost of these flows and melt water enters the Sind River. The other two terminate in the hanging valley glaciers along the eastern wall of Kolahoi Glacier. The cirque on the north-western face of Kolahoi Horn feeds a hanging valley glacier which descends along the southern valley wall and the face of Kolahoi Horn feeds a glacier which melts before it descends to the Aru Valley.

Man made activity in this region, exploiting nature beyond its optimum, carving out roads in the mountains, allowing yatris beyond permissible numbers for longer periods have created havoc with the environment. The Eco System of this region has undergone radical transformation. We are definitely heading towards disaster and climate change is the beginning of its end.

The study conducted by research department of Kashmir University was funded by Carniege Foundation and European Union in1999. Geologist Dr Hasnain observed that Kolohoi glacier will disappear by the year 2035. The other Glacier which is subject of study is East Rohtang Glacier. As per current state of Himalayan Glacier Data, Teri established Glacier Monitoring observatories  at Kolohoi glacier and east Rohtang Sikkim in 2008 November.

Reportedly the shrinkage was being monitored by state of Art scientific instruments on a regular basis for various parameters like energy Balance, mass balance and hydrological balance for Glacierized region, as Glaciers of Gangotri are too large to act as benchmarks. The Glaciers were monitored reportedly by Syed Hasnain and Dr. Shresht Tayal (who monitored the observatory through Ashraf Ganaie who photographed it and forwarded them to Tayal.

University of Kashmir in consultation with government of Jammu and Kashmir and the Energy research institute jointly agreed to launch mitigation and adaptation study and Teri Joined the band wagon. Dr Romshoo in 2009 October, states that Kolohoi Glacier has shrunk to about 11.5 square kilometers in last forty years.

The retreat has been stark in the Himalaya. The first warning came in 1999 when it was stated that the total surface area of glaciers worldwide has decreased 50 per cent since the end of the 19th century Group on Himalayan Glaciology at the International Commission for Snow and Ice (ICSI). It said Himalayan glaciers are receding faster than in any other part of the world and, and that they were likely to disappear by 2035.
The next major warning came in 2004; Indian scientists are divided over global warming effect on glaciers. “Although these glaciers are the most sensitive parameters of temperature change, both positive and negative. IPCC finds that atmospheric temperature has greater impact on glacial retreat.

The Indian government in November 2009 released a report refuting Himalayan glacier Shrinkage. V.K. Raina who authored the report made startling revelations, that western scientists apply rate of glacial loss from other parts to Himalayas and it cannot be done, glacial loss in Himalayas has different parameters. Raina further states, As long as we have Monsoons we will have glaciers and there can be many reasons for melting glaciers. J. Ramesh former Environment Minister said, “There is no conclusive evidence linking global warming with shrinking glaciers.”
United services Institution of India carried out study of Gangotri glacier by R.S. Dhami in 2011 carried study of kolohai glacier supported by headquarter fifteen corps with logistic support from victor force. TERI stopped monitoring because funds were stopped. Andraes Kaab, remote sensing expert, warns that reports could be misleading. Kang Schichang on Tibetian glaciers in 2013 September said glaciers may also be rising ice altitudes upto 6000 metres.

The question is whether the study conducted by department of Earth Sciences can be given a status of credibility, if so, then we are heading for another ice age. It stands refuted as of now then where has the Euros been spent?
I request the Chief Justice of High Court for treating this article as PIL Public Interest Litigation and enquire into the veracity of study conducted so far and also the financial expenditure for conducting study and also the donations received from abroad and from other universities

Climate change is threatening our existence and we cannot be complacent and allow wolves in lambs clothing to take away our resources from us. Brahma Chellaney in his write up in ToI has categorically stated that next world war will be for water and largest glacier of water is K2 which is in Kashmir.

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