The glaciers in the Himalayas are receding faster than in any other part of the world and, if the present rate continues, a large number of them may disappear by 2035 because of climate change, warn Indian and foreign environmentalists and geologists.
The Himalayas have the largest concentration of glaciers outside the polar caps. That is why, they are called the “Water Towers of Asia.”
The Himalayas lie to the north of the Indian subcontinent and to the south of the central Asian high plateau. They are bound by the Indus on the west slope of Mt Nanga Parbat (near Gilgit), and in the west, by river Jaizhug Qu on the eastern slope of Mt Namjabarwa.
The Geological Survey of India claims that the Himalayan glaciers occupy about 17 per cent of the total mountainous range, while an additional 30 to 40 per cent area has seasonal snow cover.
In the whole of the Himalayan range, independent geologists claim that there are 18,065 small and big glaciers with a total area of 34,659.62 km2 and a total ice volume of 3,734.4796 km3. The major clusters of glaciers are around the 10Himalayan peaks and massifs: Nanga Parbat (Gilgit), the Nanda Devi group in Garhwal, the Dhaulagiri massif, the Everest-Makalu group, the Kanchenjunga, the Kula Kangri area, and Namche Bazaar.
The Indian Himalayan glaciers are broadly divided into three-river basins of the Indus, Ganga and Barahmaputra. The Indus basin has the largest number of glaciers (3,538), followed by the Ganga basin (1,020) and the Barahmaputra (662).
The principal glaciers are: Siachen 72 km; Gangotri 26 km; Zemu 26 km; Milam 19 km and Kedarnath 14.5 km. The Gangotri glacier has retreated by about 850 m.
One may believe it or not but the climate change is real and happening now and it is causing a serious impact on fragile ecosystems like glaciers. Seventy per cent of the world’s freshwater is frozen in glaciers. Glacier melt buffers other ecosystems against climate variability. Very often, it provides the only source of water for humans and the biodiversity during dry seasons. Read More