Two retreating Ladakh glaciers alarm scientists | India News


DEHRADUN: Durung-Drung and Pensilungpa, two glaciers in Ladakhhave retreated by 7.8 sq km and 1.5 sq km respectively from 1971 to 2019. Alarmed scientists hold climate change and several other factors responsible for the melting of glaciers that feed Zanskar river through two tributaries.
Scientists are also surprised by the fact that despite being at an aerial distance of just 1km, the glaciers are retreating at different paces. The findings, authored by scientists of Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WIHG) Manish Metha, Vinit Kumar, Pankaj Kunmar and Kalachand Sain were recently published in the international, peer-reviewed journal ‘Sustainability’.
The glaciers are located in Pensi-La pass at an elevation of 14,612 feet in Ladakh. DDG glacier is spread across 72sq km. It has lost 7.8sqkm of ice, which is 10% of its total surface area. PG, a smaller glacier spread across 16sqkm, has lost 1.5sqkm, which is 8% of its total area. According to the study, DDG retreated at 13 metres per year from 1971 to 2019, and PG 5.6 meters annually.
Manish Metha, lead author of the study, said, “The glacier retreat is not only influenced by climate change but also by the ‘topographic setting and morphology’ of the glaciers. Two glaciers located in the same geography and facing similar climatic conditions, yet retreating in a different manner, indicates that there are several other factors at play. Snout geometry, glacier size, elevation range, slope, aspect, debris cover as well as the presence of supra and proglacial lakes are affecting the heterogeneous response of the studied glaciers.”
Climate change was a vital force in the retreating of the glaciers, the study mentioned. Despite the silver lining of one glacier retreating at a slower pace, melting of both glaciers has alarmed environmentalists. The two glaciers contribute significantly to the flow of the Zanskar river. While DDG is the origin of He addsthe largest tributary of Zanskar, PG is the origin of Suru river.


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