Melting of Himalayan Glaciers

IAS Current affairs - Melting of Himalayan Glaciers

Melting of Himalayan Glaciers



  • The government has carried out studies and maintains data regarding melting of glaciers in the Indian Himalayan region.
  • Several Indian institutes/universities/organizations (Geological Survey of India (GSI), Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology(WIHG), National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR), National Institute of Hydrology(NIH), Space Application Centre (SAC), Indian Institute of Science (IISc) etc.) monitor Himalayan glaciers for various scientific studies including glacier melting and have reported accelerated heterogeneous mass loss in Himalayan glaciers



  • Since 2013, the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) has been monitoring six glaciers in the Chandra basin (2437km2) in western Himalaya through its centre, the National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR).
  • Himansh is a state-of-the-art field research station in the Chandra basin that has been active since 2016 for conducting field experiments and glacier expeditions.
  • During the period 2013-2020, yearly mass balance (melting) rates ranged from -0.30.06 metre water equivalent per year (m w.e.y-1) to -1.130.22 m w.e.y-1. Similarly, the Baspa basin saw a mean thinning of 5011 m between 2000 and 2011, with a mean annual mass loss of –1.09 0.32 mw.e. a–1.
  • GSI has undertaken studies on glacier melting based on mass balance assessments on nine glaciers, as well as monitoring.
  • Under the National Mission for Sustaining Himalayan Ecosystem (NMSHE) and National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) has financed many R&D programmes for investigating Himalayan Glaciers (NMSKCC).
  • The bulk of Himalayan glaciers are melting or retreating at varied rates, according to mass balance studies undertaken by the University of Kashmir, Sikkim University, IISc, and WIHG for select Himalayan glaciers.


Way Forward:

  • Due to changes in glacier basin hydrology, downstream water budget, and influence on hydropower plants due to discharge variations, flash floods, and sedimentation, melting glaciers have a considerable impact on Himalayan river water resources.
  • They also face a greater risk of glacier hazards due to an increase in the number and volume of glacial lakes, accelerated flash floods and Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs), and the impact on agro practises in the high Himalayan region, among other factors.
  • The melting of glaciers is an uncontrollable natural process. Glacier melting, on the other hand, increases the risks associated with glacier hazards.
  • Various Indian institutes, companies, and colleges are employing large-scale remote sensing data to examine the disasters related with melting Himalayan glaciers. The National Disaster Management System (NDMS) was recently established.

Source: THE HINDU.