Snow cover depleting fast in Valley
It Could Lead To Eco-Disaster, Warn Experts
ARIF SHAFI WANI
CLIMATE CHANGE BLUES
Srinagar, Jan 10: Rapid depletion of snow cover in the Valley mainly due to climate change has become a cause of concern for the environmentalists saying it can have serious implications on , irrigation, agriculture, and energy sectors in summers.
Snow cover is the spatial distribution of snow in an area and it is maximum in winter and melts by the end of summer. Experts said it is different than glaciers that melt gradually.
Recent studies have revealed that snow cover on the Valley mountains had shrunk drastically mainly due to global warming coupled with unabated deforestation.
The scientists of Geology and Geophysics department of University of Kashmir monitoring variability of snow cover, confirmed snow depletion in the Valley.
“Looking at the snow depletion curves developed over the Kashmir region, the decreasing trends in the snow cover distribution are quite discernible all over the Pir Panjal and the Himalayan ranges,” Prof Shakeel Romshoo, a scientist and conveyor of Working Group on Climate Change told Greater Kashmir.
He said the decreasing trend in the snow cover coupled with increase in winter and summer temperatures can pose serious ecological and economic consequences in this mountainous state.
“As we have received less snowfall this season, the snow cover has started to disappear earlier. The discharge in the rivers from March to June is mainly due to the melting of snow cover in the higher regions. But due to early melting of snow cover, the discharge in the rivers and streams will get affected,” he said adding the discharge from glaciers and rainfall was not enough to suffice water requirements.
He said due to scanty snowfall and rising temperature, snowline was fast moving up and it can have negative affects on biodiversity. “Less snow in Kashmir also means no skiing and thus the winter tourism that the Government is earnestly promoting, may get affected if the trend continues. Even there are some indications that the less snowfall in the region is affecting the wildlife habitats, particularly it seems to have disturbed the wild animal including snow leopard and black bears,” he added.
Pertinently during summer last year, the Valley experienced a sharp rise in temperature with mercury soaring to record 35.11 degree Celsius on August 14. In 1946, the Valley has recorded the highest temperature in August at 36.7 degree Celsius.
In July last year, the Wildlife authorities found barking deer, which are not endemic to the Valley, in north Kashmir’s Tangmarg area. Experts say the climate change might have forced the deer, usually found in hotter regions, including Jammu, to move into the Valley.
The spurt rise in temperature has also led to recession of the largest glaciers of Kashmir Himalayas, Kolhai—the main water source of Valley. Kolhai has shrunk 18 percent during past three decades due to unprecedented increase in temperature, deforestation, increased activity of Gujjars near the Glacier and high levels of pollution caused by the emission of green house gases by military vehicles and cement plants, experts said.
Romsu said based on the current observations and model forecasts, a natural phenomenon El- Nino is expected to continue into Northern Hemisphere till spring.
He said the El-nino being experienced over the northern hemisphere will affect climate in the Valley. “El-nino is declared when the sea surface temperature consistently shows above-normal tendency for five months and we are seeing higher SST for the past six months now. Though not consistent, the impact of El Nino on precipitation is negative over the North-western Himalayas and we may thus expect less than normal precipitation this winter,” he said.
Pertinently, Kashmir Valley last week received this year’s first snowfall, ending nearly two months of dry spell. Since then Valley has been reeling under intense cold and frequent power cuts. Weathermen have forecast dry weather for few more days.
Lastupdate on : Sun, 10 Jan 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 10 Jan 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 11 Jan 2010 00:00:00 IST
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