Live updates: Uttarakhand glacier burst
Incremental use of reinforced concrete cement structures replacing the traditional wood and stone masonry is accelerating a heat-island impact in the mountain region. There are more than 8000 glacial lakes in the Himalayas of which 200 are classified as dangerous.
The glacier collapse at Joshimath on Sunday led to a massive flood in the Dhauli Ganga river and caused large-scale devastation in the upper reaches of the ecologically fragile Himalayas.
02:16Shocking visuals: Glacier breaks in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli, several feared dead
“Glacier retreat and permafrost thaw are projected to decrease the stability of mountain slopes and increase the number and area of glacier lakes (high confidence). Resulting landslides and floods, and cascading events, will also emerge where there is no record of previous events (high confidence),” says the Special Report on Oceans and Cryptosphere (SROCC) by Inter governmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC).
“There is high confidence that current global glacier shrinkage caused new lakes to form and existing lakes to grow in most regions, for instance in South America, High mountain Asia and Europe,” the report says.
“There is also high confidence that the number and area of glacier lakes will continue to increase in most regions in the coming decades, and new lakes will develop closer to steep and potentially unstable mountain walls where lake outbursts can be more easily triggered by the impact of landslides,” it adds.
“The IPCC reports that climate change has altered the frequency and magnitude of the natural hazards. The scientist reported with medium confidence that in some regions snow avalanches involving wet snow have increased while the rain on snow floods have also increased at lower elevations in springs. We do not have the data now to give you information on what has caused the avalanche in the Chamoli district but what we know, prima-facia, is that this looks very much like a climate change event as the glaciers are melting due to global warming,” said said Dr. Anjal Prakash, Research Director and Adjunct Associate Professor at the Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad.
The impact of global warming on glacial retreat is well documented. The recent assessment report called the HI-MAP report facilitated by ICIMOD has also pointed these out. The report shows that temperatures are rising in the Hindu-Kush Himalayan region and the rise in global temperature will have more impact in the Himalayan region due to elevation-dependent warming. If the world can keep the temperature rise to below 1.5 degrees Celsius, in the HKH region it would translate to at least a rise of 1.8 C, and in some places, above 2.2 C,” said Prakash who was Coordinating Lead Author of the special report on Oceans and Cryosphere, 2018 and Lead Author of the ongoing 6th Assessment report of IPCC.
Calling it a “very rare incident,” Dr Mohd Farooq Azam, Assistant Professor, Glaciology & Hydrology, IIT Indore, said it is unlikely that this was a cloud burst.
“Weather reports in Chamoli district show sunny weather till today with no record of precipitation. There is no doubt that global warming has resulted in the warming of the region,” says Azam.
“Climate change driven erratic weather patterns like increased snowfall and rainfall, warmer winters has led to the melting point of a lot of snow. The thermal profile of ice is increasing, where earlier the temperature of ice ranged from -6 to -20 degree C, it is now -2, making it more susceptible to melting,” Azam said.
Prakash wants the government to spend more on monitoring the Himalayan region.
“Himalayan regions area are also least monitored region and this event actually shows how vulnerable we could be. Spending more will ensure we have more information about the change process. The result would be that we are more aware and could develop better adaptation practices,” he further said.
Credit: Source link