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State Centre on Climate Change
under aegis of the State Council for Science Technology & Environment
Himachal Pradesh

   


To understand climate change and its impact on the Himalayan Eco-System by developing and implementing mountain spicific adaptation plans based on vulnerability,risk scenario and by enhancing capacity of all stake holders to combat the threat of climate change.
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NCHG-Abstract Vol.

Glaciers of Himachal Himalaya:

Geological history of Earth indicates that glacial dimensions are constantly changing with changing climate. During Pleistocene the earth’s surface has experienced repeated glaciations over a large land mass. During the interglacial period, climate was warmer and deglaciation occurred on large scale. This suggests that glaciers are constantly changing with time and these changes can affect the discharge of most of the Himalayan Rivers. Therefore it is important to carry out the investigation for snow and glaciers for the proper management of Himalayan water resources.

Keeping in mind this view, Space Applications Center had initiated a programme for the mapping of glaciers and permanent snowfields in the Satluj basin. Using IRS satellite data inventory was completed for the Satluj basin right from its orgin in Tibet catchment. Similar investigations were carried out in the Chenab basin in Himachal Pradesh. The mapping was carried out on 1:50,000 scale using LISS III- High Resoultion Satellite Data.

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Seasonal Snow Cover Variation during the year 2004, 2005, 2008 & 2009 in Beas, Satluj, Ravi & Chenab Basins in Himachal Pradesh:

The state of Himachal Pradesh receives winter precipitation in the form of snow in the higher altitudes and about 1/3rd of the total geographical area remains under thick snow cover during the winter season. Most of the major rivers and the perennial streams originating from the Himalayas depend upon the seasonal snow cover for their discharge dependability. Keeping this in consideration, using High Resolution AWiFS satellite data the analysis was done for assessing the variation of seasonal snow cover in three winter months i.e. January, March and April for the years 2004 & 2005 and 2008 & 2009 in the state of Himachal Pradesh. The investigations were completed at Space Application Center Ahmedbad. The results obtained from the analysis suggest that there is an overall increase in the total area under snow in each basin in the year 2005. Thus it is observed that there is an overall increase in the total area under in all the basins observed in the year 2005 for the months January, March and April as compared to the year 2004. Likewise an overall reduction in total area under snow cover during the month of February 2009 was observed where as March and April shows an increasing trend in 2009 than 2008.

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Monitoring of Glaciers of Baspa Basin:

Himalaya has the largest concentration of glaciers outside the Polar Regions. Predominantly Himalayan glaciers are valley type in morphology and most of them are covered by debris. Therefore, they provide unique and complex interaction with climate. Melt water from these glaciers forms an important source of water for most of the North Indian Rivers. Based on the recent observations on the Himalayan Glaciers, it is observed that most of them are retreating. Thus monitoring of these glaciers would be helpful to assess the future availability of Himalayan water resources. In the present study, glaciers of the Baspa and Spiti sub catchment of Satluj River basin have been monitored.

On the basis of the updated inventory of the glaciers in the Baspa basin a total of 30 glaciers could be mapped. Out of these 19 glaciers were selected to estimate glacier retreat. Investigation reveals that almost all the glaciers are receding and an overall 19% deglaciation is observed from 1962 to 2001. Glacier located around 5000m have shown 24 % loss as compared to 14% for those located on the altitude higher than 5400 m and the mean altitude of the glacier terminus is shifted upward by 88m i.e. from 4482 to 4570. In the last 39 years almost 19% glaciated area is reduced in the Baspa basin. In addition, in the month of December January snow melting was observed in altitude range as high as 4800 m which will have a profound effect on the stream run off pattern of many glaciers and snow fed streams.

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GLACIER LAKE OUTBURSTS FLOODS (GLOF):

Glacier outbursts floods caused by moraine dammed lakes are a common feature in the glaciated terrain in the world. The bursting of these lakes increases the discharge of the stream causing flash floods in the downstream areas and causes huge loss of life and property. Many events of such outbursts floods have been reported in the North America, Europe and in the Himalayas (Clark & Mathews, 1981, Deslognes et al 1989 ) . So far in the Himalayan region the bursting of such lakes have been reported from Manalsu region , Central Nepal and in Bhutan (Gansar ,1983).However no systematic records of glacier lake outbursts from Indian Himalayas is available. During the investigation for the snow and glaciers in the Himachal Himalayas, an attempt has also been made to delineate all such lakes formed in the glaciated region. A total of 38 lakes could be mapped in the entire Satluj basin ,out of which 14 lakes falls in the Himachal Himalayas where as the remaining lakes fall in the Tibet Himalayas and 55 lakes have been delineated in Chandra basin out of which 5 are supra glacier lakes.

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Monitoring of Glaciers of Spiti Basin

The monitoring has been done using 1962 as the base layer from Survey of India topographic maps and the glacier layers for the year 2001 and 2007 based on the satellite data. On comparison, it is found that 188 glaciers in 1962 have increased to 217 in 2001, which may be due to fragmentation of large sized glaciers increasing the small glaceris. This is evidenced by the fact that 5 glaciers with area more than 10 sq km in 1962 have been reduced to only 2 glaciers in 2001. Similar trends have been observed in case of glacier with areal range between 5-10 and 3-5 sq km. Likewise, the small sized glaciers with area less than 1 sq km shows an increase in their numbers from 556 (2001) to 621(2007) and loss of area of about 5%, whereas glaciers with aerial range of 3-5 sq km shows minimum deglaciation of the order of about 4% during this period. The large sized glaciers do not show much variation in their number between 2001 & 2007, but shows a deglaciation of the order of about 21% during this period. In general an overall reduction of about 11% has been observed during the monitoring period of 2001 to 2007.Thus based on the investigations, it is concluded that the large sized glaciers seems to be worst affected in the basin with the result the glaciers of the valley can be said to be in reducing phase and such reducing trends may create scarcity of the water in the region in future.

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