Climate Change in Himalayan Region


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Evaluating geological and geomorphological control on glacier changes in Higher
Himalayan Range, Jammu and Kashmir, India

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Climate Change in Himalayan Region

  1. 1. Climate Change in Himalayan RegionTitle: Evaluating geological and geomorphological control on glacier changes in HigherHimalayan Range, Jammu and Kashmir, IndiaAbstract: The Himalayas posses one of the largest resources of snow and ice, which act as ahuge freshwater reservoir. Monitoring the glaciers is important to assess the overall reservoirhealth. To account for the variable response of the Himalayan glaciers towards climaticwarming during the past, an attempt has been made to investigate the control of relief, slope andgeology on glacier area change and glacier snout fluctuation in part of the higher Himalayanrange, Jammu and Kashmir, India. Satellite images of 1975 and 2001 were used for mapping 34major glaciers where a large number of glaciers in the area exhibited a minor glacier area changeand snout retreat indicating a slow response to the climatic fluctuations during 1975 to 2001.Loss in area was less in the glaciers located at higher altitudes (above 5200 metres) whereas °higher sloping (greater than 16 ) glaciers were more vulnerable to glacier area change.Underlying rock type had no direct control on glacier s were more vulnerable to glacier areachange. Underlying rock type had no direct control on glacier snout retreat and area loss solelybecause glaciers possessing same lithological formations behave in a contrasting way both interms of retreat and area loss. Glaciers having a very low retreat rate possess lesser percentage ofarea (less than 40%) in low altitudes (below 5200 meters).KEYWORDS: Geology, Slope, Glacier, Himalayas, RetreatIntroduction: Over the past three million years, the earth’s surface has experienced repeatedlarge period of glaciations, separated by short warm interglacial periods. During the peak ofglaciation approximately 47 million sq. km area was covered by glaciers, three times more thanthe present ice cover over the earth. A number of ideas were proposed to explain repeated cycleof glaciations on earth. One of the explanations is related to natural variation in the earth’s orbitaround the sun. presently the Himalaya has 32392 glaciers covering an area of 71182.08 sq km.the main show gathering ground is located in the Higher Himalayas ranges where topographicand climatic conditions are favorable for the formation of glaciers. Himalayan glaciers are moresensitive to climate change than other mountain glaciers in the world as they are situated in theTropical climate belt and thereby receiving more heat than by the Arctic and temperatureclimatic mountain belts. A large percentage of glaciers in the Himalayas have shown retreat withan annual rate of retreat varying from 16 to 35m. Over the past few decades glaciers in theCentral Himalayas have shown a regular pace of retreat. However the retreat rate of the glacierson the southern slope of the Central Himalayas has accelerated recently. In the study ofmorphometric characteristics of glaciers in the Doda Valley, Zanskar basin observed adecreasing trend of Accumulation area ratio along with a negative mass balance in 2001 ascompared to 1975 and 1992 indicating the possibility of a faster retreat of glaciers. Glacierchanges attempted on 13 selected glaciers in parts of Zanskar valley, Jammu and Kashmir using
  2. 2. SOI topographical maps (1962) and satellite images (2001) of IRS-LISS-III indicated an 18.16%glacier area loss during this period with retreat rate varying from 6-33 m/yr. according to data itis found that the temperature stopped rising in 2001. Changes in the glacier area are not affectednot only by climatic fluctuations but also by factors such as glacier dynamics and glacierdimensions. Glacier retreat may also depend on non-climatic factors such as ice dynamics,glacier hypsometry and topography. During an expedition to the Dokriani glacier, GarhwalHimalaya, remarked that geomorphological characteristics of a glacierized catchment influencethe melting the melting of the glacier. In this study an attempt has been made to investigate the changing behavior of 34glaciers with reference to their retreat/advancement and area shrinking/growth in the HigherHimalayan range. The study also focused to find out the hypsometry, slope and geology onglacier area change and snout fluctuation. Geological control in terms of lithological variationswithin each glacier was analysed to examine their influence on changes over the glaciers,Study Area: The study area falls in part of Higher Himalayan Range, Ladakh, Jammu andKashmir covering about 5000 km² area. The area extends between 32° 59´ to33° 55´ N latitude and 76° 15´ to 77° 15´ E longitude with elevation ranging from 3070-6400meters above sea level (asl). Glaciers of different dimensions are present on both the northernand the southern aspects in the study area. The area is drained by river Zanskar, Doda and theirtributaries.
  3. 3. Methodology: Glacier extent delineated using Remote Sensing Satellite. This is followed bydigitalization of glacier extentsusing ArcGIS 8.3 software. The digital elevation model generatedusing ASTER data and the contour map of the study was generated at 200m interval which isused for glacier hypsometry computation. Analysis of slope and lithology within the glacierboundry carried out using the ASTER data and the geological map of Jammu and Kashmirrespectively. Glacial boundary is delinated using topographic maps and digitized usingGeographic Information System. On satellite images glacial boundary is mapped using standardcombinations of bands. Images enhancement technique is used to enhance the differencebetween glacial and non-glacial areas. For snout collection Global Positioning System(GPS) isrequired. A specific relationship between glacier area and depth will be calculate by the formula H= -11.32+53.21F·³Where H is the mean glacier depth (m) and F is the glacier area (sq. km).Objective: 1. To determine the melting of glacier at different height. 2. To study and focus to find out the hypsometry, slope and geology on glacier area change and snout fluctuation. 3. To locate the different area parameter with the help of GPS. 4. To study specific relationship between glacier area and depth. 5. Determination of Glacier area change and snout fluctuation, control of altitude, control of Lithology, control of slopeTentative time table for work: -This upcoming work will take 6 to 8 months for its completion.Data treatment:For the treatment of data the MS-Excel and other relevant software will be used.Expected Results and Their Scientific Interpretation:-I expect that the proposed study will address the level of glacier melting and their effect on waterresources. This study will also improve the prediction of the impact of glacier retreat in thehigher Himalayan region snout fluctuation, considering the role of changes in rainfall pattern,average temperature rise etc. The specific objective of this project is to explore the relationship
  4. 4. between water of glacier and average temperature rise in ambient environment including thechanges in rainfall pattern system.REFERENCE:Ahmed S.S Hasnain and M.Selvan(2004). Morpho-metric characteristic of glaciers in theHimalayas, Asian journal of Water, Environment and Pollution. 1(1 & 2). 109-118Aizen, V.E Aizen and S. Nikitin(2002). Glacier regime on the northern slope of the Himalaya(Xixibangma glaciers), Quarternary International, 97-98, 27-39.Ajai et al. 2011. Snow and glaciers of the Himalayas. Pub. Space Applications Centre,Ahmedabad, pp80.Dobhal, D.P. and S. Kumar (1997). Statistical analysis of glaciers in Himachal Pradesh, North-West Himalaya, India, Current Science, 86(5), 692-696.Hansen, J.L. Nazarenko, R. Ruedy, M.Sato, J. Willis, A.D. Genio, D. Koch, A.Lacis, L.Lo andS.Menon(2005). Earth’s Energy Imbalance: Configuration and Implications, Science, 308, 1431-1435.Hastenrath, S.(1995). Glacier Recession on Mount Kenya in context of global tropics. Bulletinde 1’Institut Francais d’Etudes Andines, 24(3), 633-638.Kulkarni, A.V and I.M. Bahuguna(2002) Glacial retreat in the Bapsa Basin, Himalayasmonitored with satellite stereo data, journal of glaciology. 48, 171-172Kumar, R., G. Areendran and P.Rao (2009)