The Ladakh, Jammu, and Kashmir glaciers are melting at a substantial rate. A unique study that used satellite data revealed this. It was discovered that over 1,200 glaciers in the Himalayan region saw a massive mass reduction.
Reduction in mass
The annual reduction in mass is about 35 centimetres on average. This was during the period of 2000-2012.
The journal Scientific Reports published this study. Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh region were the concerned regions. Additionally, it is important to note that it included the areas the Line of Control and Line of Actual Control. A total of 12,243 glaciers were studied in order to register changes in thickness and mass.
Professor Shakil Ahmad Romshoo, the corresponding author of the study said “In general, it was observed that the glaciers in the Pir Panjal range are melting at the higher rate — more than one meter per year — while as the glaciers in the Karakoram range are melting relatively at a slower rate, around 10 cms per year.”
Source of observation
The researchers used two prior satellite observations. The first one was from NASA in 2000. While the other used the observations of German Space Agency DLR. The thickness change was determined for the entire Upper Indus Basin using this data.
Romoshoo explained that no such data is available after 2012. He told that this is the first of its kind study. In addition, he informed that only six to seven glaciers have been studied using field observations.
Researches pointed out that glaciers melt continuously. The shrinkage in the area of glaciers is assessed routinely. However, mass changes and thickness cannot be estimated in the same way. This is because of the lack of satellite data. Whereas there are many challenges and limitations for conducting field-based studies in the mountainous Himalayan region. The region has lost 70.32 gigatonnes of glacier mass none decade of observation. This as the team reported is ” quite significant”.
Impact of Glacier Melting
The continuous melting of glaciers will have severe impacts on different sectors of the economy. This comes as an important thing to note because of water scarcity in the downstream areas. Moreover, the researches told that this study will be extremely critical. It will help in determining the sustainability of water resources in the South Asian region.
Reasons for glacier melting
In addition to all this, researchers have revealed the reasons for the glacier melting. It includes increasing temperatures and decreasing snow precipitation. The latter is the result of greenhouse gas emissions. This is from rapid industrialization and an increase in the use of fossil fuels. However, the absence of industrialization in the region means this the result of global climate change.
The journal Climatic Change published an important study. It says that the region will face a severe increase in temperature. This can be up to 6.9 degrees Celsius by the end of this century. As a result, glaciers in this region could shrink up to 85 per cent.
Department of Science and Technology conducted the latest study. It was a research project called “Centre of Excellence for glacial research in the western Himalaya.”