29 July 2023Introduction: The Himalayan region has long been a subject of scientific interest due to its vast glaciers and their crucial role as a water source. Recently, a study conducted by the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology has shed light on the formation of glacial lakes around Parkachik Glacier in Ladakh, raising important concerns about glacial retreat and its implications.
The Formation of Glacial Lakes According to the study’s observations, three glacial lakes are likely to form around Parkachik Glacier in Ladakh. These findings indicate significant changes in the glacial landscape, necessitating a deeper understanding of the contributing factors.
Glacier Retreat Rates The study examined historical satellite imagery dating from 1971 to 2021 to assess the rate of glacier retreat. Between 1971 and 1999, the average rate of glacier retreat was recorded at two meters per annum. However, between 1999 and 2021, this rate escalated dramatically, reaching an average of around 12 meters per annum.
Global Warming as the Culprit The primary reason behind the rapid melting of glaciers, including Parkachik Glacier, is attributed to global warming. Rising temperatures in the region have accelerated the ice melt, leading to alarming consequences for the delicate Himalayan ecosystem.
Size and Dimensions of Parkachik Glacier The Parkachik Glacier situated in Ladakh is among the most significant glaciers in the Suru River valley, encompassing an extensive expanse of 53 square kilometers and extending approximately 14 kilometers in length. This impressive glacier plays a vital role in supplying water to the region.
Understanding Accumulation and Ablation The study also delved into the concepts of accumulation and ablation in glacial dynamics. Accumulation refers to the buildup of snow at the top of a glacier, while ablation signifies the melting of the glacier’s lower half.
Potential Formation of Proglacial Lakes The research highlighted a significant finding known as ‘surface ice velocity,’ indicating that the glacier’s lower ablation zone experienced a reduction of 28% in ice velocity between 1999 and 2020-21. This reduction led to the prediction that three proglacial lakes are likely to form near the glacier, presenting potential risks and challenges.