India gets its first avalanche monitoring radar in Sikkim
#GS-01 Geography, #GS-03 Disaster Management
- Avalanches are masses of snow, ice, and rocks that fall rapidly down a mountainside.
- Avalanches are classified into two types:
- slab avalanches, which are built of tightly packed snow and are caused by the collapse of an underlying weak snow layer, and
- loose snow avalanches, which are composed of looser snow.
- Slab Avalanche is far more damaging than loose snow displacement as it is able to destroy forests and small villages in its course.
- Once a slab avalanche starts, the slab shatters into many separate blocks. These snow blocks break up into ever-smaller pieces.
- Some of the pieces rise into the air as a moving cloud of icy particles. The cloud races downhill at very high speeds.
- A slab will move very quickly downhill, with a speed up to 130 km/h.
- It starts off as a cohesive unit and shattering into smaller pieces as it descends.
Loose snow avalanches:
- Loose snow avalanches happen when poorly bonded surface snow slides downhill due to the effect of gravity.
- They are common on steep slopes and are seen after a fresh snowfall.
- Since the snow does not have time to settle down fully or has been made loose by sunlight, the snowpack is not very solid.
- Such avalanches have a single point of origin, from where they widen as they travel down the slope.
- They are also known as sluffs, these types of avalanches are generally smaller and less dangerous than slab avalanches, but they can still pose a hazard in the wrong terrain.
About Avalanche Monitoring Radar:
- An avalanche monitoring radar, the first of its kind in India, has been installed in North Sikkim by the Army and Defence Geoinformatics and Research Establishment.
- It can detect avalanches within three seconds of its trigger and will assist in saving lives of troops and reducing damage to property.