Gangotri Glacier melting away 'rapidly'

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Gangotri Glacier melting away 'rapidly'

Uttarkashi : Due to global warming and changing weather cycle, scientists say India's second largest glacier and the source of the Ganges, Gangotri glacier is has melted by five km and Gomukh itself has receded several metres in the last couple of years.

According to official data, the 30.2 km-long Gangotri glacier has now melted to less than 25 km on the basis of contour mapping. According to a NASA study, the Gangotri glacier is retreating at a rate of 25 meters per year. However, no official study has come to the fore about the rate of melting regarding width and thickness and the status of the tributary glaciers.

Ninety year-old Brahmaleen Sundaranand, who had camped in Gangotri for more than six decades, did an environmental study of the Himalayas by crossing the peaks and collected "eight quintal" slides and photos in the period from 1948 to 1990 as evidence, had told that Gangotri glacier is shrinking from all sides. Several glaciers like Sita, Meru etc. have disappeared.

Cracking of the glaciers is a continuous process and is accelerating for several reasons including human activities and vegetative cover. Human activities in Gangotri glacier should be limited. There is also a need to increase the vegetative cover in Bhojwasa Gomukh area. Automatic weather stations are installed at Harme Dokrani Glacier and carbon dioxide measuring instruments at Bhojwasa and Chirwasa.

Scientists of Wadia Institute said that rising temperature is affecting many glaciers including Gomukh. Chardham Yatra, which commenced on May 6, with heightened human and vehicle movement in and around Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath, increases pollution and temperature of the higher Himalayas. Its effects are also being seen in Gangotri Valley. The effect of heat in North India is being seen on the Gangotri glacier.

Corona pandemic came as a saviour

While the two years of the Corona period resulted in less pollution, this year temperatures began rising in March itself. The average high for April 2022 has been 0.5 degrees Celsius higher than the previous record of 35.4 degrees recorded in April 2010.

In addition, forest fire increases temperature in the region impacting the plains and even the glacier area. Shanti Thakur of Gomukh Glacier Bachao Dal told that Himalaya is not the life of Uttarakhand but the whole of India. If Himalayas survive then the country will be saved. He said that due to human intervention in the higher Himalayan regions, Himalayan glaciers are melting rapidly. "I have been warning for a long time that human movement should be stopped in the Gomukh glacier area, but the government does not pay attention to it."