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The Himalayan mountain system to the north of the Indian land mass with arcuate strike of NW–SE for about 2400 km holds one of the largest concentration of glaciers outside the polar regions in its high-altitude regions. Perennial snow and ice-melt from these frozen reservoirs is used in catchments and alluvial plains of the three major Himalayan river systems, i.e. the Indus, Ganga and Brahmaputra for irrigation, hydropower generation, production of bio-resources and fulfilling the domestic water demand. Also, variations in the extent of these glaciers are understood to be a sensitive indicator of climatic variations of the earth system and might have implications on the availability of water resources in the river systems. Therefore, mapping and monitoring of these freshwater resources is required for the planning of water resources and understanding the impact of climatic variations. Thus a study has been carried out to find the change in the extent of Himalayan glaciers during the last decade using IRS LISS III images of 2000/01/02 and 2010/11. Two thousand and eighteen glaciers representing climatically diverse terrains in the Himalaya were mapped and monitored. It includes glaciers of Karakoram, Himachal, Zanskar, Uttarakhand, Nepal and Sikkim regions. Among these, 1752 glaciers (86.8%) were observed having stable fronts (no change in the snout position and area of ablation zone), 248 (12.3%) exhibited retreat and 18 (0.9%) of them exhibited advancement of snout. The net loss in 10,250.68 sq. km area of the 2018 glaciers put together was found to be 20.94 sq. km or 0.2% ( 2.5% of 20.94 sq. km).
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CURREN T SCIENC E, VOL. 106, NO. 7, 10 APRIL 2014 1008
*For correspondence. (e-mail: imbahuguna@ sac.isro.gov.in)
Are the Himalayan glaciers retreating?
I. M. Bahuguna1, *, B. P. Rathore1,
Rupal Brahmbhatt2, Milap Sharma3, Sunil Dhar4,
S. S. Randhawa5, Kireet Kumar6,
Shakil Romshoo7, R. D. Shah2, R. K. Ganjoo8
and Ajai1
1Space Applica tions Ce ntre, Ahmedab ad 380 015, India
2M. G. Sc ience Institute, Ahmedabad 380 009, Ind ia
3Schoo l of Soc ial Sc iences, Jawaha rlal Ne hru Un iversity,
Delhi 110 067, India
4Depar tment of Geolo gy, Gove rnment C ollege , Dharamshala 176 2 15,
India
5State Co uncil of Sc ience a nd Tec hnology, Shim la 171 009, India
6G.B. P ant I nstitute of Himalayan Environment and De velopme nt,
Almora h 263 643 , I ndia
7Depar tment of Earth Sciences, U niversity of Ka shmir,
Srinaga r 190 006, India
8Depar tment of Geolo gy, Jammu University, Jammu 180 006 , I ndia
The Himalayan mountain syste m to the north of the
Indian land mass with arcuate strike of NW–SE for
about 2400 km holds one of t he largest concentration
of glaciers outside the polar regions in its high-altitude
regions. Pe rennial snow and ice-melt from these fro-
zen reservoirs is used in catchments and alluvial
plains of t he three major Himalayan river syste ms, i.e.
the Indus, Ga nga and Brahmaputra for irrigation,
hydropower ge neratio n, pro duction of bio-reso urces
and fulfilling t he domestic water demand. Also, varia-
tions in the exte nt of these glaciers are unde rstoo d to
be a sensitive indicator of climatic variations of
the e arth system and might have implications o n the
availability of water resources in the river syste ms.
Therefore, mapping and monitoring of these fresh-
water resources is require d for the pla nning of water
resource s and understanding t he impact of climatic
variations. Thus a study has been carried o ut to find
the c hange in the extent of Himalayan glaciers during
the last deca de using IRS LISS III images of 2000/01/
02 and 2010/11. Two thousand and e ighteen glaciers
representing climatically diverse te rrains in the Hima-
laya were mapped and monitore d. It includes glaciers
of Karakoram, Himachal, Zanska r, Uttarakhand,
Nepal and Sikkim regions. Among these, 1752 glaciers
(86.8%) were observed having st able fronts ( no
change in t he snout position a nd area of ablation
zone), 248 (12.3%) exhibite d retreat and 18 (0. 9%) of
them exhibited advance ment of snout. The net loss in
10,250.68 sq. km area of the 2018 g laciers put toget her
was found to be 20.94 sq. km or 0.2% ( 2.5% of
20.94 sq. km).
Keywords: Ablation, glacier, Himalaya, retrea t, snout.
GLACIERS occur in the high-altitude regions of the moun-
tains and i n the polar regions o f the earth. They are vital
to mankind as they co ntrol the global hydrological cycle,
maintain the global sea levels and perennially suppl y
freshwater to the rivers. In the wake o f climatic variations
arising due to i ncreasing concentration of greenhouse
gases in the atmosphere resulting in global war ming and
its i mplications on various resources, glaciers are increas-
ingly bei ng monitored worldwide. The Himalayan moun-
tain system to the north of the Indian land mass with
arcuate stri ke of NW–SE for about 2400 km holds one of
the largest concentration of glaciers outside the polar
regions i n its high-altitude regions. Perennial snow and
ice-melt from these frozen reservoirs is used i n catch-
ments and alluvial plains of the three major Himalaya n
river systems, i.e. Indus, Ganga and Brahmaputra for irri-
gation, hydropower generation, production of bio-
resources and fulfilling the domestic water demand. Also,
variations i n the extent of these glaciers are understood to
be a se nsitive indicator of cli matic variations of the earth
system and might have i mplications on the availability o f
water resources i n the river systems. Therefore, mapping
and monitoring of these natural, frozen freshwater re-
sources is required for the planning of water resources
and understanding the impact of climatic variations.
However, ground-based studies on monitoring of the
Himalayan glaciers require enor mous effort i n terms of
time a nd logistics due to lack of atmospheric oxygen i n
high altitudes, trekking i n rough terrai n a nd cold climatic
regimes. Despite these di fficulties, the efforts made by
many expedition teams have led to the generation of vital
information on the fluctuations of Himalayan glaciers i n
terms o f mass b alance or si mply s nout moni toring1–9.
Remote sensing having the capability of providing s ynop-
tic view, multi-temporal coverage and multispectral c har-
acterization of earth surface features has demonstrated its
utility for glacier monitoring i n di fferent mountai n
regions of the world, including the Himala ya10–20. The
satellite data available i n the public domai n such as
Landsat TM21, topographic maps prepared in the past, ae-
rial photographs and recently released CORONA photo-
graphs along wi th data from other earth observation
satellites such as IRS series, ASTER, etc. have been the
main sources for generating this information. However, i t
is seen that very few studies compare the c hanges i n gla-
ciers from data of si milar sources. The present s tudy uses
mainly data from LISS III sensor of IRS sa tellites for an
interval of about one decade between 2000/01/02 and
2010/11 for monitoring of 2018 glaciers taken from dif-
ferent par ts o f the Himalaya.
Snowfall in the Himalayan mountai n ranges is nour-
ished by two climatic s ystems: the mid-latitude westerlies
and South Asian monsoon. A si gnificant i nter-a nnual cli-
matic variability in the region is also associated with El
Nino Souther n Oscillation (ENSO)22. The monsoo nal
influence is greatest on the southern slopes of the Hima-
laya and eastern Tibet, which experience a pronounced
summer maximum i n precipitation occurring at high
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CURREN T SCIENC E, VOL. 106, NO. 7, 10 APRIL 2014 1009
altitude as snow. In c ontras t, the more northern and west-
ern ranges receive heavy s nowfall duri ng wi nter with
moisture supplied by mid-latitude westerlies2 3. So the
glaciers monitored in this study repres ent di fferent cli-
matic and orographic settings. It incl udes 149 glaciers of
Karakora m ( glaciers of mai nly the Nubra basin and nor th
of it), 560 glaciers of Himachal (glaciers of the Chenab
and the Sutlej basi ns), 729 glaciers of Zanskar (glaciers
of the Zanskar, the Spiti and the Suru river basins), 353
glaciers of Uttarakhand (glaciers of the Ganga basin), 195
glaciers of Nepal (the Kosi basin) and 32 glaciers of
Sikkim region (glaciers of the Tista River basi n and north
of i t) (Figure 1). These include typical valley-type gla-
ciers, ice aprons and glaciers occ urri ng o n mountain
slopes. In terms of debris cover on their ablation zones,
the selec ted glaciers incl ude all types, i.e. fully debris
covered, partially debris covered and debris-free.
Satellite da ta of end o f the ablation period are normall y
used for mapping of glacier extent. End of ablation period
varies acr oss the Himalaya from west to east. End of
ablatio n for wester n Himalaya corresponds mainly to
September to mid-October period, w hereas the corre-
sponding period for the eastern Himalayan region (Tista
region in Sikkim) is from December to earl y January.
Accordi ngly, IRS LISS III images (spatial resolution
23.5 m) corresponding to the end of the ablation period
for the year 2000/01/02 and 2010/11 were used for map-
ping of glacier extent. As IRS LISS III data were not
available for 200 1 in the case of Nepal, a Landsat scene
(spatial resolution 30 m) of 2000 was used . Details of the
data used for each of the si x regions are given in Table 1.
Visual interpre tation techniques were used to delineate
the extent of the glaciers. Digital False Colour Compos-
ites (FCCs) of LISS III images were interpreted on-scr een
in different combinations of green, red and NIR, or green,
red and SWIR bands. The first combination is used to
distinguish vege tated areas around snouts of the glaciers,
whereas SWIR b and helps in the distinction of snow a nd
Figure 1. S tudy regions with the number of glaciers monitored
(2018): Karakoram–149, Himacha l–560, Zans kar–729, Uttarak hand–
353, Ea st Nepal–195 a nd Sikkim–32.
clouds and glaciated region from the s urroundi ng rocky
areas. Mapping of glaciers with bare ice s urface i s rela-
tively simpler b ecause ice has a dis tinct signature than the
other surrounding features. However, many Himalayan
glaciers do not have clean surfaces as they are covered
with var ying a mounts of moraine, consisting of dust, sil t,
sand, gravel, cob bles and bo ulders. Though identification
of s nout posi tion and delineation of glacier boundaries is
difficult for debris-covered glaciers, certain interpretation
techniques are used to identify snout position and glacial
extents accurately in the above co nditions as has been
done by several a uthors11,24, 25. Moreover , d ebris cover on
the glacier tongue normally s hows distinct texture in co n-
trast to the texture of the s urrounding rocks. Additional
use of DEM also helps in the interpretation of glacier
extent. Therefore, ASTER and SRTM DEMs were used
as additional data to confirm the snout position. In many
cases, the snout positions of glaciers were confirmed by
locating the poi nt of emergence of s tream from the gla-
ciers. Sometimes the snouts of the debris-covered glaciers
are characterized by unique morphological s hape and
steep slope, which help i n identifying their position on
the image. When old a nd i nactive lateral morai nes in the
form of ridges were seen al ong the glacier valle ys, the
extents were delineated excluding the later al moraines.
Table 1 . Sa tellite d ata used in glacie r monito ring
Region 2001 2010–11
Karako ram LISS-II I_July & Oct-20 01 LISS-II I_Oct-201 0
Zanskar LISS-II I_Aug-2 001 LISS-II I_Aug-2 010
LISS-II I_Aug-2 001 LISS-II I_Sep-201 0
LISS-II I_Aug-2 001 LISS-II I_Aug-2 011
Himacha l LISS-II I_Aug-2 001 LISS-II I_Oct-201 0
LISS-II I_Aug-2 001 LISS-II I_Oct-201 1
LISS-II I_Aug-2 001 LISS-II I_Oct-201 1
LISS-II I_Sep-200 1 LISS-II I_Sep-201 0
LISS-II I_Aug-2 002 LISS-II I_Sep-201 0
Nepal Landsat ETM+_O ct. LISS III_Dec-20 10
a nd DEC_200 0
Uttarak hand LISS-II I_Sept-2001 LISS-II I_Oct-201 0
LISS-II I_Oct-200 1 LISS-II I_Sep-201 1
LISS-II I_Oct-200 1 LISS-II I_Oct-201 1
LISS-II I_Oct-200 1 LISS-II I_Oct-201 1
Figure 2. Number of glaciers showing retreat, advance or stab ility
during 20 00/01/02–2010 /11.
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Table 2 . The size– freque ncy dist ribution of glaciers cons idered for mo nitoring
Area (sq. km) Karako ram Zanskar Himachal Uttarak hand Nepa l Sikk im Total
<1 8 436 261 184 21 4 914
1 to 3 46 197 139 90 59 8 539
3 to 5 30 43 54 23 32 7 189
5 to 10 17 31 51 26 37 8 170
10 to 20 21 9 33 18 25 3 109
> 20 27 13 22 12 21 2 97
149 729 560 353 195 32 2018
Figure 3. Mean retreat of snout (total retreat /no. of retreating gla-
ciers) in six regions dur ing 2000/0 1/02–2010/11 for 248 glac iers.
Figure 4. C hanges in a rea of ab lation zone during 2000/01–201 0/11
shown for six regions.
The method adopted for c hange detec tion i n many ear-
lier studies was based on findi ng the c hange in the total
area of the glacier over an interval of time14, 26, which
includes zones of acc umulation a nd a blation. Images of
the end of ablation season w hen snow line reaches the
maximum altitude are used for delinea ting accumulation
and ablation zones. The upper li mit is delineated on the
ridges or ice-divides at the head of the glaciers. The ac-
cumulation zones of the glaciers remai n dyna mic i n terms
of snow cover and so the area of accumulation zones
keeps o n c hanging in the scale of da ys and months. The
area of accumulation normally differs on two di fferent
dates and different years. The net effect of mass change is
seen on the variation i n ablation zone, including the
snout. Therefore, change onl y in the ablation zone o f gla-
ciers, which is a relatively stable zone, and shifting o f the
snout, have been considered as the cri teria for monitoring
stability, retreat or advance of glaciers. Extents of gla-
ciers were finalized using data of 2000/01 and superim-
posed o n a second se t of data to obs erve the s hift i n the
positio n o f snout a nd changes i n the area of eac h glacier.
LISS III images for both the timeframes were co-regi-
stered with an accuracy of better than 0.5 pixel (11.5 m)
for finding o ut the shi ft in snout posi tion as well as
change i n glacial area.
Area–frequency distribution of the monitored glaciers
in the six regions is given in Table 2. Glaciers having
area less tha n 1 sq. km c onstitute 45% of the number
monitored. Ninety-seven glaciers occupy area larger than
20 sq km. Most o f the glaciers of Karakoram region are
larger i n area than i n other regions. Smaller glaciers are
more in Zanskar region followed by Himachal and Utta-
rakhand regions.
Monitoring of 2018 glacier snouts from the satelli te
data of 2000/01/02 and 2010/11 shows that 1752 glaciers
(86.8%) have been observed to be stable (no c hange in
the snout position), 248 glaciers (12.3%) have exhibited
retreat and 18 of them (0.9%) have experienced advance-
ment (Figure 2). Region-wise mean s hift in s nout position
for the retreating glaciers is shown in Figure 3. It varies
from 145 to 313 m for the 2000/01/02–2010/11 period
with a positional uncertainty of 11.5 m. Average movement
of 3 00 m of snout was observed for advancing glaciers
(18 glaciers) of Karakoram. Maximum retreat was observed
in Si kkim region followed by Kara koram and Himac hal
region. The mean retreat o f snout for 248 retrea ting gla-
ciers was found to be 170 m (17 m a nnuall y approx.). But
by consideri ng all the 2018 glaciers monitored, the mean
retreat was found to be 21 m (2.1 m annually). No
detachment of glaciers in the ablation zones in the study
area was o bserved during the period o f monitoring.
Changes in area of glaciers were mapped and moni-
tored in the ablation zones. The glaciers with stable
snouts (1752 glaciers) have not exhibited any change in
area of abla tion zones. Glaciers with retreat of snout (248
glaciers covering 34% of total area in 2001) e xhibi ted
loss in area, whereas the glaciers having adva ncement (18
glaciers coveri ng 6% of total area i n 2001) exhibited
increase i n area. This gives a net loss of 20.9 4 sq. km
(0.2 2.5% uncertainty) in the total area of
10,250.68 sq. km for all the monitored glaciers mapped in
the year 2000/01. Net change in glacia ted area varies
from one re gion to another (Fi gure 4). The uncertainty in
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CURREN T SCIENC E, VOL. 106, NO. 7, 10 APRIL 2014 1011
the interpretation of mixed pixels at the margins of the
extents of glaciers i n the two da tasets get nullified. How-
ever, there could be an uncertainty of about 2.5% in area
due to half pixel error at the peripher y of change d e xtents
of glaciers2 5.
The advancement of glaciers in Karakoram region is in
conformity with the r esults prese nted i n the literature27–30.
These results differ from other parts of the Himalayan
Figure 5. Snout of a glacier in Bhaga basin (Himac hal region) show-
ing retreat during 20 01–2010 .
Figure 6. Snout o f Dur ung Drung in Za nskar bas in s howing stability
during 20 01–201 0.
Figure 7. Snout of Gangotri glac ier in Uttarakhand region showing
stability dur ing 2001–2010.
region probabl y because the Karakora m region is also fed
by mid-westerlies besides bei ng influenced by the south-
west monsoon. However, exceptionally high advance
movement has not been noted in the glaciers of Kara-
koram. Fi gures 5 –9 s how a few examples o f glaciers
showing advance ment, retreat and stable fronts as seen on
IRS LISS III images. Field veri fications were also carried
out by visiti ng 15 glaciers during 2001–2011 to validate
the s nout positio ns. Field photographs are s hown in
Figure 10. Overall , the results of the present study indi-
cate that most of the glaciers s how stable front or little
loss in area during 2000/01/02/11.
A few other studies on the monitoring of Himalayan
glaciers relevant i n this context are worth mentioning. A
loss of 15% in glacier extent in 25 years (1970–199 6) has
been reported in Peru20. In a nother s tudy, change i n gla-
cier cover was mapped i n Peruvian mountains and a loss
of 1.4 sq. km per year or 5 4% i n 48 years (1 1% per
decade) was recorded during 1 955–2003 (ref. 25) based
on topographical maps and Landsat images2 6. Glaciers in
western Canada were mapped using Landsa t images of
1985 and 2005 and a loss of 24 4.6% in glacier area of
Alberta and 10.8 3.8% in British Columbia was
Figure 8. Snout of Siachin glacie r in Karakoram region showing s ta-
bility d uring 20 01–2010 .
Figure 9. IRS LISS III images showing snout of a glacier in Kara-
koram region ad vanc ing dur ing 2001–2010.
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Figure 10. Field photogra phs showing snout of Panchinala glacier (Bha ga basin), Miyar glacier (Miyar basin),
Durung Drung g lacier (Zanska r basin) and Satopa nth glacier (Alaknanda basin).
found1 4. The uncertainty mentioned in this study1 4 was
attributed to difference in snow cover. In the Himalayan
region, mean loss of 16% i n area of glaciers was rep orted
using topographical maps of 1962 and satellite images of
2001 (ref. 17). Retreat and advance varying from 50 to
150 m/yr was repor ted in the Tibetan plateau for a p eriod
from 1973 to 1993 (ref. 18). Another study states that
65% of monsoon-influenced Himalayan glaciers are
retreati ng a nd those w hich are heavily debris covered
have stable fronts be tween 2000 and 2008 (ref. 1 9). The
study also found that the maximum rate of re treat of the
glaciers was 80 m/yr. Rate o f le ngth, area and mass
changes for glacier s for the Himalayan–Karakoram re-
gion have been reviewed31. The stud y31 reveals that there
is 0.4%/ yr loss in area from 1969 to 2010 for small gla-
ciers o f the Trans-Himalayan re gion 0.2% to 0.7%/yr
from 1960s to 2001 in the Indian Himalaya and 0.12%/ yr
from 1968 to 200 7 in Garhwal Himala ya.
From the aforementioned disc ussion a nd the results of
the present study it can be inferred that the number and
rate of glacier retreat have co me down in the last decade
compared to the results of other studies carried out for a
period pri or to 2001.
The results of the present study i ndica te that most of
the glaciers were in a s teady state compare d to the res ults
of other studies carried out for the period prior to 2001.
This period of monitori ng almost corresponds to hiatus i n
global warming in the last decade32. It may happen that
an i nterval of one dec ade could be smaller than the
response time of glaciers to be reflected in terms of any
significant change with 23.5 m spa tial resol ution of data.
This p oint requires further studies using high-resol ution
data for a longer interval of time.
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ACKNOW LEDGEMEN TS. W e thank S hri A. S . K iran K umar,
Directo r, Space Applica tions Centre (ISRO), Ahmed abad for p roviding
opportunity and all s upport dur ing this s tudy. We also thank Dr J. S.
Parihar, Deputy Director, EPSA/SAC and A. S. Rajawat, Head, GSD/
GSAG/ EPSA for crit ically e xamining the manuscript a nd pro viding
useful suggestions.
Received 2 July 2013; revise d accepted 20 Febr uary 2014
... The longest and most important rivers in India originate in the Himalayas and are created by glaciers from that range. The Himalayan mountain system located to the north of the Indian land mass with an arcuate strike of NW-SE for approximately 2400 km is referred to as the "third pole" (Bahuguna et al., 2014, Kaushik et al., 2019, Bolch et al., 2012. The Himalayan glacier blanket is approximately 33,000 km 2 in size (SAC 2011). ...
... The ablation period end varies across the Himalaya from west to east. End of ablation for western Himalaya corresponds mainly from September to mid-October period, whereas the corresponding period for the eastern Himalayan region (Teesta region in Sikkim) is from December to early January (Bahuguna et al., 2014). Thus, the data used were from the month of December. ...
... End of ablation for western Himalaya corresponds mainly from September to mid-October period, whereas the corresponding period for the eastern Himalayan region (Teesta region in Sikkim) is from December to early January (Bahuguna et al., 2014). Thus, the data used were from the month of December. ...
Book
Water is one of the most critical resources of nature that sustains life both in natural and artificial ecosystems. The uneven spatiotemporal distribution of water resources is one of the vital factors responsible for various anthropogenic pressures (e.g., pollution) we are facing in the 21st century. Due to our imperfect knowledge about the distribution of water resources, it has become incumbent that spatial information techniques are used for understanding the root causes behind the degradation of our water resources. Satellite remote sensing provides essential data to map water resources, hydrology flux measurement, monitoring drought, and flood inundation. The geographic information system (GIS) provides the best tools for modeling and assessing water resources for drought flood risk management. Sustainable exploitation of water resources requires planning and control methods that allow incorporating a large number of spatial and temporal variables. Because of its features, GIS seems to be the most suitable tool to aid in managing water resources available. GIS and modeling can make an essential contribution to integrated water resources management: indeed, given the scarcity of public health and environmental data, some form of modeling tends to be a prerequisite. Even in the absence of a complete understanding of the processes and relationships involved or sufficient data, the construction of flow charts and mind maps can help develop an appreciation of the issues and help build consensus among the various stakeholders. GIS has influenced the development and implementation of a hydrological model at several different levels. GIS has been used to address water supply, water quality, and stormwater management problems and allows users to run more traditional lumped models more efficiently and include at least some degree of spatial effects by partitioning the entire watershed into smaller subwatershed. GIS has been used to transform what was originally a specific model into a spatially distributed model. GIS is used for a variety of input models and comparing the model output with field data to improve the scientific basis of policy and the critical water quality management plan. Management of water resources is crucial as we look for ways to build environmentally and socially sustainable societies and lifestyles. In some cases, we need to find new methods to alter water resources supply and demand. In other cases, we need to find an effective strategy that is faster and more effective in identifying pollution sources. GIS can contribute to solving the problems in each of these things. The GIs technology can help guide the implementation of water resources policies and promote a more efficient allocation of natural resources and the fair and the community as we strive to achieve the above goals. “GIScience for the sustainable management of water resources” contains chapters from eminent researchers and experts. Sustainable exploitation of water resources requires planning and control methods that allow the incorporation of a large number of spatial and temporal variables. Because of its features, GIS seems to be the most suitable tool to aid in the management of water resources available. GIS and modeling have the potential to make an essential contribution to integrated water resources management: indeed, given the scarcity of public health and environmental data, some form of modeling tends to be a prerequisite. The primary target audience is urban planners, environmentalists, policymakers, ecologists, researchers, academicians, students, and professionals in the fields of remote sensing, civil engineering, social science, computer science, and information technology. The primary focus of this book is to replenish the gap in the available literature on the subject by bringing the concepts, theories, and experiences of the specialists and professionals in this field jointly. The editors have worked hard to bring the best literature in this field in a book form for helping the students, researchers, and policymakers develop a complete understanding of the vulnerabilities and solutions to the whole environmental system. This publication is ideally designed for urban planners, environmentalists, policymakers, ecologists, researchers, academicians, students, and professionals in remote sensing, civil engineering, social science, computer science, and information technology. The book is based on clear conceptual understanding, internationally acclaimed authorship, the latest research on the subject, understanding the hydrology spatially while providing a holistic treatise on water science and its management. We hope the book shall do service to the humanity that it was intended to be meant. We acknowledge the help of all the reviewers who tirelessly read chapters and sent suggestions to authors that greatly enhanced their quality and prospective reach. Special thanks to Dr. Neelu Gera, Dr. Muhammad Muslim, and Dr. Muzamil Amin for their valuable suggestions during the book's proofreading. Finally, we thank our families who supported us in thick and thin at each stage of our lives; nothing would have been possible without their help and support. Editors Gowhar Meraj Shruti Kanga Majid Farooq Suraj Kumar Singh Sudhanshu
... The Himalayan region is one of the few regions where climate change effects are most prominent [9,10]. Most studies have reported that Himalayan glaciers are in a state of continuous recession [11][12][13][14][15], except the glaciers in the Karakoram region, which are stable or advancing [12]. Retreating glaciers at a faster rate are believed to have triggered many catastrophic events in recent decades; for example, GLOFs are becoming a serious and emerging threat in the high mountainous regions of the world in general and the Himalayan region in particular [4,13,14,16]. ...
... The Himalayan region is one of the few regions where climate change effects are most prominent [9,10]. Most studies have reported that Himalayan glaciers are in a state of continuous recession [11][12][13][14][15], except the glaciers in the Karakoram region, which are stable or advancing [12]. Retreating glaciers at a faster rate are believed to have triggered many catastrophic events in recent decades; for example, GLOFs are becoming a serious and emerging threat in the high mountainous regions of the world in general and the Himalayan region in particular [4,13,14,16]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Climate warming-induced glacier recession has resulted in the development and rapid expansion of glacial lakes in the Himalayan region. The increased melting has enhanced the susceptibility for Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs) in the region. The catastrophic failure of potentially dangerous glacial lakes could be detrimental to human life and infrastructure in the adjacent low-lying areas. This study attempts to assess the GLOF hazard of Gangabal lake, located in the Upper Jhelum basin of Kashmir Himalaya, using the combined approaches of remote sensing, GIS, and dam break modeling. The parameters, such as area change, ice thickness, mass balance, and surface velocity of the Harmukh glacier, which feeds Gangabal lake, were also assessed using mul-titemporal satellite data, GlabTop-2, and the Cosi-Corr model. In the worst-case scenario, 100% volume (73 × 10 6 m 3) of water was considered to be released from the lake with a breach formation time (bf) of 40 min, breach width (bw) of 60 m, and producing peak discharge of 16,601.03 m 3 /s. Our results reveal that the lake area has increased from 1.42 km 2 in 1972 to 1.46 km 2 in 1981, 1.58 km 2 in 1992, 1.61 km 2 in 2001, 1.64 km 2 in 2010, and 1.66 km 2 in 2020. The lake area experienced 17 ± 2% growth from 1972 to 2020 at an annual rate of 0.005 km 2. The feeding glacier (Harmukh) contrarily indicated a significant area loss of 0.7 ± 0.03 km 2 from 1990 (3.36 km 2) to 2020 (2.9 km 2). The glacier has a maximum, minimum, and average depth of 85, 7.3, and 23.46 m, respectively. In contrast, the average velocity was estimated to be 3.2 m/yr with a maximum of 7 m/yr. The results obtained from DEM differencing show an average ice thickness loss of 11.04 ± 4.8 m for Harmukh glacier at the rate of 0.92 ± 0.40 m/yr between 2000 and 2012. Assessment of GLOF propagation in the worst-case scenario (scenario-1) revealed that the maximum flood depth varies between 3.87 and 68 m, the maximum flow velocity between 4 and 75 m/s, and the maximum water surface elevation varies between 1548 and 3536 m. The resultant flood wave in the worst-case scenario will reach the nearest location (Naranaag temple) within 90 min after breach initiation with a maximum discharge of 12,896.52 m 3 s −1 and maximum flood depth and velocity of 10.54 m and 10.05 m/s, respectively. After evaluation of GLOF impacts on surrounding areas, the area under each inundated landuse class was estimated through the LULC map generated for both scenarios 1 and 2. In scenario 1, the total potentially inundated area was estimated as 5.3 km 2 , which is somewhat larger than 3.46 km 2 in scenario 2. We suggest a location-specific comprehensive investigation of Gangbal lake and Harmukh glacier by applying the advanced hazard and risk assessment models/methods for better predicting a probable future GLOF event.
... Recent studies indicate that glaciers in the Kashmir Himalayas are thinning at varying rates 1,20,52,67,69 , with the recession attributed primarily to recent warming in the area 1,20,69 . ...
... Recent studies indicate that glaciers in the Kashmir Himalayas are thinning at varying rates 1,20,52,67,69 , with the recession attributed primarily to recent warming in the area 1,20,69 . ...
Article
Glacial landforms are pieces of evidence to comprehend the glaciological past and paleoclimatic conditions in the region. In paleo-glacial reconstructions, a critical geomorphological context is provided for determining glacial chronologies. The study provides a detailed geomorphological mapping and investigation of the Nehnar valley, NW Himalayas, Jammu and Kashmir, India. To map the glacio- geomorphological features, the study uses LISS-IV (5.8 m resolution) and Google Earth Pro (1 m resolution) images as well as morphological sketches and GPS data collected during field visits. The Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer Digital Elevation Model (ASTER-DEM, 30m resolution) has also been used to enhance the morphological and elevation characterization of glacial features. A host of glacial features like lateral and terminal moraines, serrate, debris cones, moulins and outwash plains are among several others mapped in the study region. Using dating techniques, the spatial data on glacial landform features in the area can be used to guide the reconstruction of paleo-glaciological setups. This fills in some of the gaps in our knowledge about glaciation in the Kashmir Himalaya during the Pleistocene.
... The Himalayan region is one of the few regions where climate change effects are most prominent [9,10]. Most studies have reported that Himalayan glaciers are in a state of continuous recession [11][12][13][14][15], except the glaciers in the Karakoram region, which are stable or advancing [12]. Retreating glaciers at a faster rate are believed to have triggered many catastrophic events in recent decades; for example, GLOFs are becoming a serious and emerging threat in the high mountainous regions of the world in general and the Himalayan region in particular [4,13,14,16]. ...
... The Himalayan region is one of the few regions where climate change effects are most prominent [9,10]. Most studies have reported that Himalayan glaciers are in a state of continuous recession [11][12][13][14][15], except the glaciers in the Karakoram region, which are stable or advancing [12]. Retreating glaciers at a faster rate are believed to have triggered many catastrophic events in recent decades; for example, GLOFs are becoming a serious and emerging threat in the high mountainous regions of the world in general and the Himalayan region in particular [4,13,14,16]. ...
Article
The dramatic mass loss of Tropical Andean glaciers under the influence of climate change has caused alterations in regional hydrological regimes, including development and expansion of glacial lakes, especially moraine-dammed lakes, supraglacial lakes and ice-dammed lakes. There is a broad consensus on Moraine-Dammed Glacial Lakes (MDGLs) to be commonly understood as potentially most dangerous lakes that can trigger Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs). The GLOF event in that process is expected to negatively impact the downstream communities, agricultural assets and infrastructure. In this study, we have prepared an updated and detailed inventory of MDGLs in the Cordillera Blanca region of the Peruvian Andes. The multi-temporal satellite data (TM, ETM, OLI and Sentinel-2A) was used to analyze the changes in lake area over a period of 40 years from 1980 to 2020. A total of 38 MDGLs (size > 0.05 km2) covering an area of 10.30 km2, and located in the altitudinal zone ranging from 4155 to 4960 masl were identified and mapped. From 1980 (6.59 km2) to 2020 (10.3 km2), an expansion of 3.7 km2 (35%) at an annual rate of 0.09 km2/year was observed in the lake area. This study also contributes in terms of developing a database of past GLOF events from an extensive literature survey to understand the hazard and disaster profile of the region for the period 1702–2020. A total of 28 GLOF events have been reported in the region which brought devastation to the surrounding communities. We conclude that the region is highly prone to GLOFs as understood from the occurrence of GLOFs in the past as well as from the current scenario of MDGLs.
... Analysis of area changes over 28 years for the nine glaciers revealed that on average the glaciers have lost an area of 20.8% at the rate of 0.74% a −1 ), surpassing the average recession of 0.39% a −1 observed over the western Himalayas (Azam et al. 2018). The nine glaciers investigated in the present study show accelerated recession compared to glaciers in the neighborhood (Kulkarni et al. 2006;Hewitt 2011;Schmidt and Nüsser 2012;Bahuguna et al. 2014;Majeed et al. 2021b). The highest recession (33.5%) was observed for the G6 glacier in Thajiwas valley (Sind 1992-2000 2000-2010 2010-2020 1992-2020 subbasin) while as least recession (~ 7.1%) was observed for the glacier G8 in the Drass region ( Fig. 2 and Table 3). ...
Article
Full-text available
Glaciers across the Kashmir Himalayan region are melting at an accelerated pace compared to other regions across the Himalayan arc. This study analyzed the recession patterns of nine glaciers in the Kashmir Himalaya region over 28 years between 1992 and 2020 using satellite images and field measurements. The recession patterns were correlated with debris cover, topographic factors, and ambient black carbon (BC) concentration at glacier sites. HYSPLIT model was used to track the air mass sources at a 7-day time-step from September 1, 2014, to September 28, 2014, over the selected region. All nine glaciers revealed high recession as indicated by changes in the area (average recession: 20.8%) and snout position (~ 14 m a−1). The relative percentage of debris on each glacier varied between ~ 0% (clean glacier) and 43%. Although the investigated glaciers lie in the same climatological regime, their topographical behavior is dissimilar with mean altitude ranging between 4000 and ~ 4700 m asl and the average slope varying from 17 to 24°. All the investigated glaciers are north-facing except G3 (southerly aspect). Our results indicate anomalously high ambient BC concentrations, ranging from 500 to 1364 ng m−3, at the glacier sites, higher than previously studied for glaciers in the Himalayas and neighboring Tibetan Plateau. The backward air-mass trajectory modeling indicated both local and global sources of particulate matter in the study area. A comparative analysis of BC measurements and glacier recession with the studies conducted across high Asia indicated the influence of BC in accelerating the melting of glaciers in the Kashmir region.
... Several researchers (Bahuguna et al. 2014;Bhattacharya et al. 2016;Nainwal et al. 2016;Kumar et al. 2017Kumar et al. , 2021Garg et al. 2017) studied the glaciers of central Himalaya suggest their depleting phase. Garg et al. (2017) studied 18 glaciers of the central Himalaya (including the Raj Bank glacier) and found that about 30% of glaciers experienced robust control of topography on their dimensional changes during 1990-2015. ...
Article
We examined the two neighbouring Raj Bank and Kosa glaciers of the upper Dhauliganga catchment of Uttarakhand, central Himalaya, India, to assess their variability towards climate change. We performed the analysis of multiple satellite images for the period of 1962–2019 and field-based GNSS data obtained during 2018–2019. Length change, area change, debris cover area, and snowline altitude (SLA) were obtained using that. During the last 57 years (1962–2019), the Raj Bank and Kosa glaciers lost 2.43% (0.32 km2 or 0.006 km2 a−1) and 4.54% (0.45 km2 or 0.008 km2 a−1) area; and for the same time span, their frontal retreat was estimated 639.39 m (11.22 m a−1) and 206.71 m (3.69 m a−1), respectively. The study also depicts that from 1968 to 2019, the Raj Bank glacier shows a significant increase in the debris cover area of 4.41%, while in the Kosa glacier, it was 4.08% only. Between 1968 and 2017, the SLA of the Raj Bank and Kosa glaciers shifted on an average by 82 and 71 m upwards, respectively. Loss in glacial area, enhanced debris cover area, and shift in SLA are the indicators of ice volume loss under the present climatic scenario.
... Satellite data, in this context, provide an alternate and suitable platform to investigate spatiotemporal glacier variations on regular basis (Bhambri & Bolch, 2009;Racoviteanu et al., 2009). The use of multispectral remote sensing data for glacier studies is highly advantageous over traditional methods as the synoptic coverage facilitates a large number of glaciers to be viewed periodically (Bahuguna et al., 2014;Bhardwaj et al., 2016;Brahmbhatt et al., 2012;Racoviteanu et al., 2009). In view of the above, the present study utilizes time-series remote sensing data to assess characteristics and temporal glacier evolution. ...
Preprint
Full-text available
Knowledge about glacier extent, dynamics and characteristics are important for climate change attribution and prediction. Understanding on long-term dynamics and glacier inventory is crucial, particularly for the melt-dominated and latitudinally-diverse western Himalayan glacier basins. In this study, a temporal inventory is prepared for Warwan-sub basin (WSB), utilizing satellite imageries since the 1993 (Landsat TM: 1993; ETM ⁺ : 2001, 2008; OLI: 2020) and elevation model (SRTM DEM: 2000). The base inventory was generated for the year 2001 and systematically adjusted to the glacier situations in 1993, 2008 and 2020. Results indicate that in the year 2001, WSB in the western Himalaya included 84 glaciers (> 0.02 km ² ) covering an area of 187.9 ± 5.8 km ² . The mapping (2001) further revealed a supraglacial debris cover of 15% of the glacierized area (28.2 ± 0.9 km ² ). Overall, the debris cover increased by 6% between 1993 and 2020. Temporal analyses clearly suggest a period of gain in the glacierized area (2001–2008) interspersed by the two phases of decline (1993–2001 and 2008–2020). Results specify a stronger decline in the glacierized area during 1993 to 2001 (197.03 ± 6.1 to 187.9 ± 5.8 km ² ) than between 2008 and 2020 (188.4 ± 5.9 to 182.8 ± 5.66 km ² ). Remarkably, the glacierized area increased from 187.9 ± 5.8 to 188.4 ± 5.8 km ² during 2001 to 2008. In view of widespread recession of regional glaciers, the gain in the area between 2001 and 2008 represents a peculiar characteristic of WSB that needs further detailed investigation. Further analyses suggest that low-altitude, east-facing, debris-free, steep-sloped and small glaciers experienced greater loss in the area than large, debris-covered, north-facing, gently-sloped and high-altitude glaciers. Overall, the study at the sub-basin scale reveals inherent glacier dynamics with periodic increase and decrease in the glacierized area and a notable influence of non-climatic factors in regulating spatial heterogeneity and the rate of glacier changes.
... The recession of the Himalayan glaciers in response to anthropogenically induced global warming is still debatable (Armstrong, 2010, Bali et al., 2011, Fujita et al., 2008, 2009, Raina, 2009). In the Himalaya, monitoring of 2018 glacier snouts using satellite data from 2000/01/02 and 2010/11 shows that 1752 glaciers are stable having no change in the snout positions, while 248 glaciers are retreating and 18 of them are advancing (Bahuguna et al., 2014). ...
Article
Full-text available
The dynamic behavior of glaciers in the Himalayan region produced the landforms, which provide valuable information on the long-term effects of climate change and landscape evolution. The Gangotri glacier, one of the most dynamic and relatively well-documented glacial system, is longest valley glaciers out of 968 glaciers scattered over the Uttarakhand Himalayan Range. Although extensive mapping has been carried out, the retrieved data set still lacks unanimous understanding on the pattern of retreat and also its geomorphic response. Furthermore, inadequate and isolated information from dendrochronology, sedimentology, mineral magnetism, palynology, black carbon deposition, geochronology and palaeoclimatic approaches preclude understanding on the chronologic correlation and glacial stratigraphy. However, climate change urgently demands in-depth information on flashfloods and such processes responsible for landscape modification. The Gangotri glacier has experienced varying rates of retreat since 1935 from as low as 20 m/y, to very high rates of 30-50 m/y (1960 to 1990). During the last few decades, the rate is observed to be decreasing to 10-15 m/y (2015-2021). The geochronology based studies, indicated glacier terminus around 3.7 km down during ~200-300 yrs B.P from its position in 1992. This was clarified by tree colonization pattern study in the glacier forefields, which precisely established for the first time that the Gangotri glacier terminus receded only ~63 meters during 1571-1934 C.E. of total recede ~1.853 km in the past 447 years (1571 to July 2017). The Gangotri Glacier Region (GGR) exhibits stratified as well as unstratified glacial and non-glacial landforms. The unstratified glacial deposits represent Lateral Moraines (LM) and Recessional Moraines (RM), whereas the stratified deposits occur as Outwash Plains (OWP) and Kame Terraces (KT). The non-glacial landforms are unstratified Debris Cones (DC), Pillar Structures (PS) and stratified Flash Flood Deposits (FFD). The sedimentary analysis describes that the OWP sediments are poorly sorted medium sand evolved by glacio-fluvial processes, whereas sediments of KT are well-sorted sand and silt evolved by a combination of two depositional environments, the glacio-fluvial at the base and lacustrine at the top. Palynological analysis revealed the presence of pollen-spores of local terrestrial herbaceous as well as marshy taxa, along with temperate tree taxa, transported from lower altitudes in good amount during the Early Holocene. The carbon isotopic analysis indicated that the GGR is characterized by both C3-C4 i.e. mixed type of vegetation. The average value in the weight % of BC is 0.07 and the weight % of d13CBC is -25.2‰, which is close to atmospheric aerosols containing vehicular emissions mainly during the common traffic (~ -26‰). The mineral magnetic analysis of KT reflects dominance of detrital influx depicting warm episodes having welloxygenated ponding conditions that ended with restricted cold climatic events. A combination of geochronology, sedimentology and mineral magnetic studies were integrated with other proxies to build up the Late Quaternary stratigraphy in this region. Tributary glaciers, snow melt ephemeral streams, mass movements, landslide lake outburst flooding (LLOF), and glacier lake outburst flooding (GLOF) are considered as important phenomena, which affects the glacial signatures and creates vision in identification of the landforms. The modification of glacial landforms and landscape of GGR are the main reasons for diversified opinion on glacial history. The geochronology of various sections of the glacial stratified deposits provide the record of climate change of last 25 Ka BP with major warm and cold events such as the Last Glacial Maximum (21-19.5 Ka BP), Older Dryas (16.5-14.5 Ka BP), Bølling-Allerød (14.5-13.5 Ka BP), Younger Dryas (13.5-12 Ka BP), Indus Valley Civilization Collapse (5.0-3.0 Ka BP), Medieval Warm Period (1.25-0.7 Ka BP) and Little Ice Age (0.7 -0.2 Ka BP). The geomorphic features such as Terminal Moraines (62.89±8.58 Ka BP), Oldest Lateral Moraines (~ 60 Ka BP), Oldest Outwash Plains (~ 60 Ka BP), Kame Terraces (25.0 - 0.3 Ka BP), Old Lateral Moraines (17.56±4.11- 4.84±1.21 Ka BP), Old Outwash Plains (5.13±1.54 - 3.3 Ka BP), Debris Cones (5.2- 1.8 Ka BP), New Lateral Moraines (1.0- 0.35 Ka BP) and New Outwash Plains (1.82 - 1.0 Ka BP) are the main glacial stratigraphic units and sequences. This paper presents the glacial stratigraphy and the overview on geological analysis in the GGR in light of rate of retreat, dendrochronologic attributes, geomorphological imprints, sedimentologic signatures, mineral magnetic response, palynological distribution, carbon deposition, flash floods events, processes of landscape modification, geochronology, and major climatic events, which may provide significant inputs in understanding other glaciated regions in the Himalaya.
... square km area was calculated to be 20.94 square km, or 0.2% (2.5% of 20.94 sq. km) (Bahuguna et al. 2014 Page 14 of 18 encroachment on wetlands and green spaces. According to the respondents, the 2014 Kashmir Flood occurred as a result of encroachment on the Jhelum River banks caused by increasing population, particularly in areas near the river. ...
Article
Full-text available
The global processes interact to produce unanticipated hazards and an infinite number of risks. As a politically and ecologically vulnerable region in Asia, Kashmir necessitates a distinct understanding of its political and physical geography to understand its disaster risks. It experienced the worst flood in the last 100 years in the year 2014, resulting in widespread loss and damage. The current study looks at disaster management in Kashmir, with a special emphasis on the anthropogenic causes of the 2014 flood in the Valley. The data sources include both primary and secondary sources, which were analysed using Geographic Information System (GIS) and remote-sensing techniques. The primary data included the field survey and interviews of the people and experts of disaster management. The current study examines how factors such as urbanization, loss of wetlands, climate change, deforestation, encroachment and so on contributed to the worst flood in the Kashmir Valley’s history. The study concludes that the 2014 flood was the result of different anthropogenic factors that acted over the years to create the large-scale destruction, and recommends several measures like control on encroachment on the Jhelum River's banks as well as proper development practises and construction of an alternate flood channel for the Jhelum River to control the floods in future.
... The Himalayan region is facing unprecedented changes in its environment and ecology due to increasing human pressure and climate change (Chakraborty et al., 2018;Gupta, 1978;McDowell et al., 2021;Pandit et al., 2014). Major threats prevalent in the region includes rapidly receding glaciers, depleting water sources, biodiversity loss, forest degradation and fragmentation, invasion of alien species, etc. (Bahuguna et al., 2014;Kindlmann, 2012;Mungi et al., 2018;Prabhakar et al., 2006;Wood et al., 2020). Recent research and development initiatives have made a strong impact on assessment and monitoring of Himalayan environment. ...
Article
A great deal of research has been conducted in the mountains; however, most of the scientific information remains scattered with minimal use in the policy and governance. We systematically reviewed and evaluated the published scientific literature on the Himalaya and identified 77,912 research outputs from 12,258 sources. Agriculture and Biological Sciences was dominant field of research followed by Earth Sciences, Medicine, Environmental Sciences and Social Sciences. Number of publications has increased annually in the Himalaya in all research disciplines, especially after 2000 with highest funding from India, China, and USA whereas highest scientific contribution from India, Nepal, USA, UK, and China. In terms of research quality, nearly 45 % of the research papers were published in SCI indexed journals. Cumulative impact factor of research articles has increased consistently whereas average impact factor was higher during 1970–1990. Prominent research themes in the Himalaya includes humans, clinical studies, animalia, genetics, risk assessment, healthcare, tectonics, climate change, earthquakes, rainfall, biodiversity, glaciers etc. Research publications in the Himalaya covers a wide range of aspects like field-based data driven studies, new discoveries and observations, application of new methods and techniques, application of theoretical knowledge, policy, governance etc. The Himalaya which is often termed as a data deficient region is a repository for large volume of scientific and socio-cultural information. This information if curated carefully under a uniform and multidisciplinary framework involving a trans-boundary network of Himalayan nations will provide a powerful tool for evidence-based policies and practice to address emerging environmental challenges in the region.
Article
Full-text available
The Gangotri glacier which has the 258.56 sq km of glacierized area is receding as evidenced by various geomorphological features and morphometry parametric. Because of subsidence and the fast degenerating nature of the glacier, middle part of ablation zone is full of supraglacial lakes. The study shows that retreat was much slower before, compared to what was after 1971. Series of hummocky moraines indicate a faster retreat of the ice.
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Glaciers of the Himalaya contribute significantly in the processes linking atmosphere, biosphere and hydrosphere, thus need to be monitored in view of the climatic variations. In this direction, many studies have been carried out during the last two decades and satellite-based multispectral data have been used extensively for this purpose throughout the world. The present study is aimed at mapping of glaciers in two adjacent basins (Warwan and Bhut) of the Western Himalaya with almost similar altitude and latitude and comparing the changes in the two time-frames with respect to three parameters, i.e. area, debris cover and area-altitude distribution of glaciers. The two time-frames are topographical maps of 1962 and IRS LISS III images of 2001/02. Deglaciation was observed in both the basins with 19% and 9% loss in the glaciated area in Warwan and Bhut respectively. This difference may be due to: (i) the smaller size of the glaciers of the Warwan Basin (e.g. 164 glaciers having < 1 sq. km area in comparison to 101 glaciers in the Bhut Basin), (ii) lower percentage of moraine cover in Warwan (18) than in the Bhut Basin (30) and (iii) higher percentage of glaciated area lying below 5100 m (80) in Warwan than in the Bhut Basin (70).
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The Himalayas possess one of the largest resources of snow and ice, which act as a huge freshwater reservoir. Monitoring the glaciers is important to assess the overall reservoir health. In this investigation, glacial retreat was estimated for 466 glaciers in Chenab, Parbati and Baspa basins from 1962. Expeditions to Chhota Shigri, Patsio and Samudra Tapu glaciers in Chenab basin, Parbati glacier in Parbati basin and Shaune Garang glacier in Baspa basin were organized to identify and map the glacial terminus. The investigation has shown an overall reduction in glacier area from 2077 sq. km in 1962 to 1628 sq. km at present, an overall deglaciation of 21%. However, the number of glaciers has increased due to fragmentation. Mean area of glacial extent has reduced from 1.4 to 0.32 sq. km between the 1962 and 2001. In addition, the number of glaciers with higher areal extent has reduced and lower areal extent has increased during the period. Small glaciarates and ice fields have shown extensive deglaciation. For example, 127 glaciarates and ice fields less than 1 sq. km have shown retreat of 38% from 1962, possibly due to small response time. This indicates that a combination of glacial fragmentation, higher retreat of small glaciers and climate change are influencing the sustainability of Himalayan glaciers.
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This study reports on the glacial cover evolution of the Nevado Coropuna between 1955 and 2003, based on Peruvian topographic maps and satellite images taken from the Landsat 2 and 5 multispectral scanner (MSS), Landsat 5 Thematic Mapper (TM) and Landsat 7 (ETM+). The normalized difference snow index has been applied to these images to estimate the glacierized area of Coropuna. The satellite-based results show that the glacier area was 105 ± 16 km in 1975 (Landsat 2 MSS), which then reduced to 96 ± 15 km in 1985 (Landsat 5 MSS), 64 ± 8 km in 1996 (Landsat 5 TM) and 56 ± 6 km in 2003 (Landsat 5 TM). Altogether, between 1955 and 2003, Coropuna lost 66 km of its glacial cover, which represents a mean retreat of 1.4 km year, that is, a loss of 54% in 48 years (11% loss per decade). The maximum rate of retreat occurred during the 1980s and 1990s, a phenomenon probably linked with the pluviometric deficit of El Niño events of 1983 and 1992.
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Satellite photogrammetric technique has been used for monitoring of fluctuations of Himalayan glaciers and the resulting changes in the elevations of glacier snouts. Two across-track stereo pairs from the Indian Remote Sensing Satellite (IRS)-1C covering parts of Basapa valley, a high altitude Himalayan glaciated terrain, were processed for generation of digital elevation models (DEM) and orthoimages using a softcopy photogrammetry workstation. Two glacier regions, viz., Janapa Garang and Shaune Garang glacier valley, were taken up for the study. For one glacier region, the stereo pair was generated in a workstation by replacing an image of one pair with an image from the other pair. Interchanging input image and reference image in the new pair has resulted in improvement in image matching. Accuracies related to location (in terms of latitude and longitude) and elevation of image features in the accumulation zone, ablation zone and nonglaciated regions with respect topographical map were checked. Based on geographical location and elevation of the snout derived from a topographical map of 1962 and the DEM and orthoimage of 1997, the two glaciers have been observed to have a retreat of about 690 m and 925 m, respectively.
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Dokriani glacier is one of the well-developed, medium-sized (7.0 km 2) valley glaciers of Gangotri group of glaciers in the Garhwal Himalaya. The glacier was originally mapped in 1962-63 and was remapped in 1995 by the Survey of India. The snout, surface area and elevation changes were determined by a comparison of these two topographic maps and fieldwork. The glacier shows rapid frontal recession, substantial thinning at the lower elevation and reduction of glacier area and volume. Between 1962 and 1995, glacier volume is estimated to have been reduce by about 20% and frontal area had vacated by 10%. The study revealed that during the period 1962-1995 the glacier has receded by 550 m with an average rate of 16.6 m/yr. However, the yearly monitoring of snout position of the glacier during 1991-1995 revealed an average rate of recession of 17.4 m/yr and has vacated an area of 3957 m 2.