Uttarakhand Glacier Burst: Experts Blame Increased Human Intervention In Himalayan Region

New Delhi: Environment experts have squarely put the blame of Sunday’s glacier burst at Chamoli in Uttarakhand on increasing human intervention in the ecologically sensitive Himalayan region, making it more vulnerable to climate change.

Heavy construction work in the fragile eco-sensitive zones should be avoided, Avinash Chanchal, senior climate and energy campaigner, Greenpeace India was quoted as saying by News18.

Another expert, Anjal Prakash, one of the lead authors of a special report on oceans and cryosphere of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said while it was too early to explain the cause of the devastation, prima facie it seemed to be due to climate change and global warming which has become an alarming and irreversible situation now, the report added.

He also said that the Himalayan region is the least monitored region. “I would request the government to spend more resources in monitoring the region better so that we have more information about the change process. The result would be that we are more aware and could develop better adaptation practices, Prakash, who is also a Research Director and Adjunct Associate Professor at the Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad,” was quoted as saying.

Terming the glacier burst as a rare incident, Mohd Farooq Azam, Assistant Professor, Glaciology and Hydrology, IIT Indore said satellite and Google Earth images do not show a glacial lake near the region, but there is a possibility of a water pocket. “It is a rare incident for a glacial burst to happen. Satellite and Google Earth images do not show a glacial lake near the region, but there is a possibility that there may be a water pocket in the region. Water pockets are lakes inside the glaciers, which may have erupted leading to this event. We need further analysis, weather reports and data to confirm if this indeed was the case,” he was quoted as saying.

Azam further said the thermal profile of ice is increasing, as earlier the temperature of ice ranged from -6 to -20 degree Celsius, it is now -2 degrees, making it more susceptible to melting. It is unlikely that this was a cloud burst since weather reports in the 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.

How the region will be affected

Several districts in Uttarakhand, including Pauri, Tehri, Rudraprayag, Haridwar and Dehradun, are likely to be affected and have been put on high alert.

Hindu Kush Himalayan Monitoring and Assessment Programme (HIMAP)

According to the HIMAP report, temperatures are rising in the Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region so the impact in this area will be more.

The HIMAP report facilitated by ICIMOD (International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development) shows that 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 will translate to at least a rise of 1.8 degrees, and in some places, above 2.2 degrees Celsius,  the report added.

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