Asian Journal of Water, Environment and Pollution

Morpho-metric Characteristics of Glaciers in the Indian Himalayas

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Courtesy of Asian Journal of Water, Environment and Pollution

Statistical analyses of the glacio-morpho metric parameters show a spatial variation across Himalaya. Glacier density varies across Himalaya: it is maximum in the Sutlej and Tista basin and moderate in the Jhelum and Bhagirathi basin, while least density area is in Arunachal Pradesh basin. Most of the glaciers are simple type while some glaciers are big in size and composite in nature. The single biggest glacier contributes about 30% of the total glacier cover in the respective basins. Length and width change from west to east and consequently the elongation, relief ratio and relief area gradient. These indices suggest that the west glaciers are stream type, while eastern glaciers are patch type and occupied in high relief region.

Health of glaciers can be inferred using Accumulation Area Ratio (AAR) and the average AAR value of the Indian glaciers is 0.48; a state of negative mass balance. A comparative analysis of glaciers' AAR shows that the glaciers having zero AAR constitute about 34% of total glaciers, while glaciers having near 100 AAR constitute about 9% of total number of the glaciers. Correlation matrix between various glacio-morpho metric parameters suggests that the AAR is closely related to accumulation area, length, mean elevation and area.

The accumulation zone is gentler slope area of the glaciers and a slight shift in zero isotherms on the accumulation surface will result in quick shrinkage in accumulation area. It will further contribute to more negative mass balance and development of supraglacial and moraine dammed lake in glaciated region. Present study clearly indicates the high susceptibility of the glacier shrinking in Indian Himalaya in the present climatic change regime.

Keywords: Spatial variation, Himalayan glacier, morphometry and climate change

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