Ground Report | New Delhi: Glaciers retreating in Ladakh’s Zanskar Valley; The Pensilungpa Glacier (PG) located in Zanskar, Ladakh is retreating and a recent study has attributed the retreat to a rise in temperature and a decrease in rainfall during winters. Since 2015, Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, Dehradun, and an autonomous institute under the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, has been working on various aspects of glaciology, i.e. monitoring the health (mass balance) dynamics of glaciers.
In the study, published in the journal Regional Environmental Change, the team attributed the retreat of the Pensilungpa Glacier to an increase in temperature and a decrease in precipitation during the winter.
Studies on past climatic conditions, speculation of future climate change, and its impact on glaciers in the region are ongoing. A team of scientists has studied a lesser-explored region of the Himalayas, namely Zanskar in Ladakh.
Glaciers retreating in Ladakh
These have been detected through stake networking on the glacier surface from 2016-2019. Stake networking – a peg made of bamboo that is driven into the surface of the glacier to measure it. In this way, the data related to glaciers has been collected. In this, he assessed its effect on a region-by-area basis for the mass balance of glaciers. (Glaciers retreating in Ladakh’s)
The Pensilungpa Glacier (PG) shows the past and present differences of Zanskar in the Himalayas, Ladakh due to climate change. The field observations from the last 4 years i.e. 2015 to 2019 have shown that the glacier is now retreating at an average rate of 6.7 ± 3 m A−1.
The study points to a significant effect of debris cover on glacier mass balance and retreat, particularly in summer. Moreover, the data for the last 3 years, 2016 to 2019, shows that it is on a steady retreat.
The study also suggests that glacier melting will also increase due to the continued increase in air temperature, in line with the global trend. It is also expected that due to the heat at higher altitudes, the rain will turn into water instead of snow and this may affect summer and winter patterns.