J&K glaciers melting at alarming rate: Study

A new study has revealed that glaciers in J&K were melting at an “alarming rate.” Each year, as per the study, the glaciers were melting at around 35 cm in thickness.

The study conducted by Tariq Abdullah, Dr Irfan Rasheed and Prof Shakeel Romshoo of Kashmir University’s Geo Informatics department has been published in UK-based Nature Research, a reputed scientific journal.

According to the authors, the study has covered more than 12,000 glaciers, revealing that the ice masses in Pir Panchal Range were the most affected, losing thickness of around 170 cm per year, followed by Shamsbari Range glaciers which were melting at 128 cm.

Zanskar Range is losing thickness of the glaciers at 117 cm per year while greater Himalayan range was reducing at 112 cm, followed by Ladakh range at 46 cm.

The authors of the study said they covered all 12,243 glaciers of J&K that existed as per 1947 political borders, in their study.

The study has found that the least affected glaciers were in Karakoram Range which are losing 11 cm per year and were relatively more or less stable.

Abdullah, the lead author of the research, said earlier researches were “generalized” and mostly conducted on Himalayan range.

 “Our study was based on the hypothesis that the glaciers across Himalayan range are reducing at different rates at different mountain ranges. The rate at which glaciers are losing thickness is based on the topography, altitude and other factors. We focused on the glaciers located in J&K and also collected the individual data of glaciers located at different mountain ranges. We have conducted research about how glaciers have thinned and how much volume of ice has depleted from 2000 to 2012,” said Abdullah. “In order to conduct our research, we have used various data, research tools and satellite imagery. These research tools include Geographic information System (GIS). We have also used data from US-based satellites and German AeroSpace satellites,” Abdullah said.

The study has also calculated the total volume of ice that has melted from these glaciers in a span of 12 years (2000-2012). As per the study, the glaciers of J&K have lost 70 Giga tons of ice over a decade which as per scientist was alarming and will have serious implications on environmental balance.

Another research conducted recently has found that Kashmir glaciers have lost 23 percent of area in the last six decades. The scientists believe that Kashmir could face major water scarcity in coming years which could result in less agricultural productivity.

Kashmir’s most power generation is dependent on hydro resources and experts have cautioned that reduction in the volume of ice in glaciers will have serious implications on stream flow which will in turn affect hydro electricity generation.