Sikkim Glaciers are being lost at faster rate than other parts of Himalayas

March 25 2020

Melting Rate of Sikkim Glacier has increased


Scientists from Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WIHG), Dehradun an autonomous research institute for the study of Geology of the Himalaya under the Department of Science and Technology, have found that glaciers in Sikkim are melting at a higher magnitude as compared to other Himalayan regions.

Salient Features of the study:

  • Study is published in “Science of Total Environment”.
  • Study is based on 23 glaciers of Sikkim.
  • The period of assessment is 1991-2015.
  • Study concludes that glaciers in Sikkim have retreated and deglaciated significantly from 1991 to 2015.
  • Small –sized glaciers in Sikkim are retreating while larger glaciers are thinning.
  • A major shift in glacier behavior has occurred around 2000. 
  • This study, for the first time, studied multiple glacier parameters, namely length, area, debris cover, snowline altitude (SLA), glacial lakes, velocity, and down wasting, and explored interlinkage among them to present a clear picture about status and behavior of glaciers in the Sikkim.
  • Summer temperature rise has been prime driver of glacier changes.

Significance of the study:

  • Accurate knowledge of magnitude as well as the direction of glacier changes, can lead to awareness among common people regarding water supplies and possible glacier hazards, particularly to those communities that are living in close proximity.
  • The study can provide ample baseline data on glacier changes and systematically explore the causal relationship between glacier parameters and various influencing factors.
  • A clear understanding of glacier state will help orienting future studies as well as taking necessary measures.  

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