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Climate change fallout: Kashmir glaciers lost 23% area in 60 years

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Srinagar: A major environmental crisis is unfolding in Kashmir after a new study revealed that the Himalayan glaciers have lost 23 percent area in the last 60 years.

Entitled “Stream flow response to shrinking glaciers under changing climate in the Lidder Valley, Kashmir Himalayas”, the 2018 was conducted by Asif Marazi and Shakil Romshoo of the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Kashmir.

 

The study was aimed at accessing the impact of stream flow to the shrinking glacial mass by selecting a total of 37 glaciers from the Lidder valley.  The Lidder valley, in the south-eastern part of Kashmir, hosts many glaciers including the largest glacier — the Kolahoi.

“It was observed that the glaciers in the valley have lost 23 percent of the area and 22 percent of glacial mass in the last 60 years,” reveals the study

The study notes that the depletion of glaciers has led to the significant depletion in the stream flows under the changing climate in the valley. “The shrinking of glaciers in the region is due to the increasing temperatures and the change in the form of precipitation (from snow to rain) observed in the region during winters,” it says.

The stream flow shows an overall decreasing trend in the peak summer months of June and July; however, an increasing trend in April and May, as per the study.

Professor Shakil Romshoo of Department of Earth Sciences at University of Kashmir termed the precipitation as an important climatic parameter that controls the overall health of a glacier in the Lidder valley.

 “The shrinking of glaciers and the depleting stream flows, if continuing in the future, will adversely affect the availability of water in the valley, especially during summers when it is needed the most. This will lead to decline in hydropower generation, decrease in agriculture productivity, fall in winter tourism and drinking water scarcity,” he said.