‘Gangotri glacier retreated by 3 km in two centuries’

Gaumukh, the snout of the Gangotri glacier, named after its shape like the mouth of a cow, has retreated by over 3 kilometres since 1817.

It was nearly two centuries ago that the retreat of the glacier was first documented by John Hodgson, a Survey of India geologist.

With 10 Indian States reeling under drought and the country facing a severe water crisis after two weak monsoons, the story of retreating freshwater sources such as the Himalayan glaciers is worrying. And though a three-kilometre retreat over a period of two centuries might seem insignificant at first glance, data shows that the rate of retreat has increased sharply since 1971. The rate of retreat is 22 metres per year.

Less ice formation

The retreat points to lesser ice formation each year than its current rate of melting, a process that is continuing, say scientists at the National Institute of Hydrology, Roorkee. Winter precipitation is when the glacier receives adequate snow and ice for maintaining itself. About 10-15 spells of winter snow as part of western disturbances feed the glacier. But last year Gangotri received very little snowfall. It is also observed that more rainfall and a slight temperature rise in the region, both of which transfer heat on to the glacier, warming it.

In summer, the melting of the glacier feeds the Bhagirathi River, the source stream of the Ganga. Dwindling snowfall levels have also affected the volume of water discharged during summer into the river, compared to peak levels.

It was the blast of one such glacial lake in Chorabari that led to the June 2013 flood disaster in Kedarnath.If such fast pace of melting continued here as well, such disasters cannot be ruled out.

Caving in

Earlier the Gangotri glacier appeared as a convex shape structure from atop Tapovan, the meadow at the base of Shivling peak beyond Gaumukh, but now the glacier appears to be caving in and is concave in shape.

The Bhoj (birch tree) forests have disappeared from the region.

In the end, if expert opinion is to be believed, the climate change phenomenon of melting the glaciers could well be irreversible.

Government of India and Asian Development Bank Sign $120 Million Loan Agreement to Modernize Irrigation and Improve Water Management in Odisha:-


The loan is the second tranche of a $157.5 million financing facility under the Orissa Integrated Irrigated Agriculture and Water Management Investment Program. The financing will be used for modernizing seven irrigation subprojects resulting in improved irrigation in over 100,000 hectares, and strengthening of Water User Associations (WUAs) and the institutional capacity of Odisha’s Department of Water Resources. The selected areas for the investment program are the Baitarani, Brahmani, Budhabalanga, and Subernarekha river basins and part of the Mahanadi delta.

Asian Development Bank

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is a regional development bank established in 1966  which is headquartered in Manila, Philippines.

From 31 members at its establishment, ADB now has 67 members, of which 48 are from within Asia and the Pacific and 19 outside. The ADB was modeled closely on the World Bank, and has a similar weighted voting system where votes are distributed in proportion with members’ capital subscriptions. ADB releases an annual report that summarizes its operations, budget and other materials for review by the public

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The ADB defines itself as a social development organization that is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. This is carried out through investments – in the form of loans, grants and information sharing – in infrastructure, health care services, financial and public administration systems, helping nations prepare for the impact of climate change or better manage their natural resources, as well as other areas

The ADB offers “hard” loans on commercial terms primarily to middle income countries in Asia and “soft” loans with lower interest rates to poorer countries in the region.

Since the ADB’s early days, critics have charged that the two major donors, Japan and the United States, have had extensive influence over lending, policy and staffing decisions.

Arctic regions getting greener due to climate change: NASA

Due to changing climate, Arctic regions of North America are getting greener, with almost a third of the land cover looking more like landscapes found in warmer ecosystems, according to a new NASA study.

With 87,000 images taken from Landsat satellites, converted into data that reflects the amount of healthy vegetation on the ground, the researchers found that western Alaska, Quebec and other regions became greener between 1984 and 2012.

The new Landsat study further supports previous work that has shown changing vegetation in Arctic and boreal North America. Landsat is a programme that provides the longest continuous space-based record of Earth’s land vegetation in existence.

Scientists have observed grassy tundras changing to shrublands, and shrubs growing bigger and denser — changes that could have impacts on regional water, energy and carbon cycles.

With Landsat 5 and Landsat 7 data, researchers found that there was extensive greening in the tundra of western Alaska, the northern coast of Canada, and the tundra of Quebec and Labrador.

While northern forests greened in Canada, they tended to decline in Alaska. Overall, the scientists found that 29.4 per cent of the region greened up, especially in shrublands and sparsely vegetated areas, while 2.9 per cent showed vegetation decline.

Landsat, like other satellite missions, can use the amount of visible and near-infrared light reflected by the green, leafy vegetation of grasses, shrubs and trees to characterise the vegetation.

Then, with computer programmes that track each individual pixel of data over time, researchers can see if an area is greening — if more vegetation is growing, or if individual plants are getting larger and leafier.

If the vegetation becomes sparser, the scientists would classify that area as browning.

With finer-resolution and better calibrated data from Landsat, the researchers were able to mask out areas that burned, or are covered in water, to focus on vegetation changes.





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