What are Tarballs fastening Himalayan Glacial melting?

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8 November 2020.


 A team of researchers from the Zhejiang University have reported an increase in the percentage of tarballs in the Himalayan region.

What are tarballs?

  • Tarballs are small light-absorbing, carbonaceous particles formed due to burning of biomass or fossil fuels that deposit on snow and ice.
  • This increases their light absorbing capability that hastens the glacial melting.
  • The median size tarballs found in the Himalayan Glaciers were of size 213 nanometres and 348 nanometres.
  • The study reveals that this is mainly due to wheat residue burning in the Indo-Gangetic plains.
  • The Tarballs are being carried by the wind.
  • The Tarballs are emitted along with black carbon.

Tarballs in ocean:

  • The Tarballs are formed in oceans as well.
  • In the ocean, they are formed from the crude oil floating in the water.
  •  They are transported from open sea to the shores by sea currents.
  •  They were earlier usually size of a coin.
  •  However, in the recent years, they have become big as basket balls and are weighing six to seven kilograms.
  • In Himalayas too, their sizes are increasing slowly.

How are Tarballs harmful to ocean?

  • They get stuck to the fishing nets installed in the sea.
  • This makes it difficult for the fishermen to fish. Also, they are major concern to the global marine ecosystem.

Earlier Tarball Cases

  • In 2010, Tarball occurrences were witnessed in Goa beaches.
  • In 2019, they were found in Juhu beach of Mumbai.

Major Glaciers in India

  • Gangotri Glacier in Uttarkashi, Utttarakhand
  • Milam Glacier in Trishul peak of Pithoragarh of Uttarakhand
  • Pindari Glacier in Nanda Devi, Uttarakhand
  • Zemu Glacier is the largest glacier in Eastern Himalayas. It is located on Kanchenjunga peak in Sikkim.

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