“The studies carried out by ISRO, Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WIGH) Dehradun and other institutions have revealed that majority of the glaciers are retreating (melting) at varying rates from 5-20 metre per year,” Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave said in a written reply.
He said Gangotri is one of the largest glaciers (30 km long) of Uttarkahand followed by Satopanth glacier (14 km) and both of the glaciers are “retreating” but “not at an alarming rate”.
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He said the studies carried out on melting of glaciers by the in-situ measurements as well as remote sensing data indicate that the rate of retreat is “not uniform” for all glaciers.
Giving an example, Dave said Dokriani glacier in Bhagirathi basin is retreating between 15 and 20 metre per year since 1995 whereas Chorabari glacier in the Alaknanda basin is retreating 9-11 metre per year (2003-2014).
He said a study on length and area changes of 82 glaciers located in the Bhagirathi and Alaknanda river basins has been carried out for a period of 1968-2006 using remote sensing data and the study suggests that glacier area decreased from 599.9 sq km (1968) to 572.5 sq km (2006), implying a net loss of 4.6 per cent of the total area.
However, glaciers in the Alaknanda basin and upper Bhagirathi basin lost 18.4 sq km (5.7 per cent) and 9.0 sq km (3.3 per cent) respectively in the similar period.
“There is no proposal with the government to seek foreign assistance for research on climate change in the Himalayan region,” he said to a question whether the government proposes to seek foreign assistance for research on climate change in the region.
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