Glaciers in Drass are receding fast, says study

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Glaciers in Drass are receding fast, says study

  • Pace at which glaciers are receding in Drass region points to grave threat to Himalayan glaciers.

Key highlights

  • Recent study attributes to growing vehicular traffic in the region, which has been witnessing a massive military build-up on both the sides of Line of Actual Control (LAC) since 2020.
  • Glacier area decreased from 176.77 sq. km in 2000 to 171.46 sq. km in 2020, which is about 3% of total glacier area.
  • Debris cover had significant impact on glacier melting, with clean glaciers losing 5% more than debris-covered glaciers.

Carbon concentration

  • Heavy vehicular movement is the main cause for rapid pace at which glaciers are receding in the region.
  • Black carbon concentrations are higher compared to their concentration from other high-altitude locations in the Hindu Kush Himalayas.
  • It is inferred that increasing black carbon concentration, due to proximity to National Highway, has affected the glacier's health.
  • 17 glaciers situated close to highway showed higher glacier shrinkage than those situated further away.

Differentiation difficult

  • It is challenging to distinguish between effects of civilian and military infrastructure and mobilisation on environment and glaciers in the absence of data.
  • If observed trends of climate change continue in the future, glaciers in the Himalayas may disappear entirely, having a significant impact on regional water supplies, hydrological processes, ecosystem services and transboundary water sharing.

Prelims take away

  • Glaciers
  • Drass region
  • Glacial landform