Siachen Glacier shrinking: Met Study


The Siachen Glacier, which is located in the eastern Karakoram Range of the Himalayas, has reduced by 5.9 kilometers on the longitudinal scale between 1989 and 2009 due to rising temperatures, according to a study published recently.
Human presence at Siachen may also be affecting the neighbouring glaciers of Gangotri, Miyar, Milan and Janapa which feed Ganges, Chenab and Sutlej rivers.
The study titled ‘Climate Data and Modeling Analysis of the Indus Eco-region’ has been written by Dr Ghulam Rasul of the Pakistan Meteorological Department as part of a project titled ‘Building Capacity on Climate Change Adaptation in Coastal Areas of Pakistan’. It was a European Union -financed project of World Wide Fund for Nature-Pakistan.
According to the study, Himalaya, Karakoram and Hindukush together make the largest mountain chain on earth and they are custodians of the third largest ice reserves after the Polar Regions. The glaciers in these mountain ranges feed 1.7 billion people through the seven large Asian river systems, including the Indus, Ganges, Brahmaputra, Mekong and Yangtze. These ranges are a blessing for South Asia as they protect the region from cold surges in winter, associated with northerly winds. “Since temperature maxima have been increasing at a greater rate, the thinning of ice and retreat of glacial extent has taken place simultaneously at an alarming rate. The decay estimates calculated by remote sensing techniques show that Siachen Glacier has reduced by 5.9km in longitudinal extent from 1989 to 2009. Thinning of its ice mass is evaluated at 17 percent,” the study says.
A sharp decline in the mass of all glaciers has been observed seen since the 1990s. Accelerated melting process of seasonal snow and that of glacier ice from mountain glaciers have been adding to greater volume of water into the sea than normal discharges, the report says.
Both precipitation and thermal regimes in Pakistan have suffered changes, especially in the recent two decades in line with a sharp jump in global atmospheric temperatures. Visible changes in hydrological cycle have been observed in the form of changing precipitation patterns, cropping patterns, droughts, water availability periods, frequency and intensity of heat waves, precipitation events and weather-induced natural disasters. According to the study, both minimum and maximum temperatures have increased in summer and winter almost throughout Pakistan.