More than 10,000 glaciers in India, less than 30 being monitored: Experts

More than 10,000 glaciers in India, less than 30 being monitored: Experts

After the massive floods in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district on Sunday, the lack of monitoring of glaciers has come into limelight.  Experts have said that due to various reasons the glaciers in the Indian Himalayan region are not being monitored properly.

Scientists from Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WIHG) Dehradun have stated that in a country like India, which has around 10,000-15,000 glaciers, only 25-30 glaciers are being monitored.

A senior scientist with glaciology and hydrology department in the institute, SK Rai, said, “Of the total 10,000-15,000 glaciers that are situated in India, intense and regular monitoring is done for maximum 25 glaciers across the Indian Himalayan Region. A minuscule percentage of total glaciers are studied but there is constant effort to increase this number.”

Uttarakhand has approximately 1,400 glaciers and less than ten are being monitored.  

Rai listed the challenges in studying and monitoring glaciers and said that issues like lack of resource, good quality equipment and logistical issues like proper drivers and vehicles are a hindrance for proper monitoring of glaciers. He cited some other major problems like regular permissions from concerned departments.

He further said, “Only after meeting these challenges fulfilling departmental requirements can we visit the areas and stay for 15-20 days to collect data. Another very important reason for the lack of studies on glaciers is that our country has very less institutes where glaciology is taught. Other topics of sciences may be taught in 500 or more institutes but glaciology is taught in barely five institutes. As glaciers are the main source of fresh water, more research is needed in this field.”

The director of WIHG, Kalachand Sain, stated another important reason and said that due to inaccessibility to the glacial regions, not many studies are conducted.

The director further said that there are 25 glaciers in the area where the disaster took place in Chamoli district. Of those 25, only a few are being monitored.

According to Geologist Navin Juyal, studying glaciers are important as glaciers are like umbilical cords for all climate processes, especially monsoon. They are major drivers of climate change.


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