Kashmir stares at huge water crisis as glaciers recede by 28 percent: Study
Srinagar: A new study has revealed that glaciers in Kashmir have receded by 28 percent in the last four decades.
Entitled, “Satellite-observed glacier recession in the Kashmir Himalaya, India, from 1980 to 2018”, the study was published in `Springer Nature’ on August 24, 2020.
Authored by Shakil Ahmad Romshoo, Midhat Fayaz, Gowhar Meraj, and IM Bahuguna of the University of Kashmir, Srinagar, nearly 147 glaciers were mapped for the study.
The study used a series of satellite images (1980–2018) to determine the glacier health, which is critical for nurturing and sustaining the rivers that originate from the area.
“It has been found that glaciers have reduced from 101.73 km square in 1980 to 72.41 km square in 2018 showing a recession of about 28% during the last four decades,” the study concluded.
The study noted that the depletion of glaciers has led to the significant depletion of 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,” the study said.
Professor, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Kashmir, Dr. Shakil Romshoo said the glacier loss in Kashmir is higher compared to the other Himalayan regions.
“The results indicated that there is a strong influence on altitude, aspect, slope, and climate on glacier recession in the Kashmir Himalaya,” he said.
He noted that if the shrinking of glaciers continues in the future, it will adversely affect the availability of water in the valley, especially during the summers.
It is pertinent to mention that Kashmir is predominantly an agrarian economy. Nearly 70% of the population is directly or indirectly associated with agricultural and allied occupations. Farmers require water for irrigation.
“The continued decline in glaciers will lead to a decrease in agriculture productivity, decline in hydropower generation, and fall in winter tourism and drinking water scarcity,” he said.