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Experts say climate change caused Uttarakhand glacier burst

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Environmental experts say that the glacier burst on February 7 is a result of climate change in the Himalayan region, which is warming up faster than the other mountain regions across the globe.

Experts say climate change caused Uttarakhand glacier burst
On Sunday, a massive deluge that occurred after a portion of the Nanda Devi glacier broke off in the Tapovan area of Uttarakhand caused large-scale devastation in the upper reaches of the ecologically fragile Himalayas and even washed away two hydroelectric power projects. The glacial melt flooded the Rishi Ganga valley.
However, what’s baffled many people is that the glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF) happened on a clear winter day. Usually, glacial lake outburst floods occur during extreme rainfall. But such events are least expected in winter.
Environmental experts say that the glacier burst on February 7 is a result of climate change in the Himalayan region, which is warming up faster than the other mountain regions across the globe.
Ankit Kumar, an IFS officer, wrote on Twitter: “Development pressure or climate change triggers such GLOFs.”
A report carried in The Times of India quotes Dr Anjal Prakash, Research Director and Adjunct Associate Professor at the Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad, as saying though they don’t have the exact data to provide information on the avalanche in Chamoli district, but “what we know, prima-facia is that this looks very much like a climate change event as the glaciers are melting due to global warming”.
In a similar report, The Hindu quoted Farooq Azam, assistant professor, Glaciology and Hydrology division, IIT Indore, as saying that such a glacial burst was an “extremely rare event”. Azam also added that climate change has driven erratic weather patterns such as heavy snowfall and rainfall, and not-so-cold winters, which has led to a lot of snow melting.
Experts have stated in the past that the thermal profile of ice was rising — from a range of -6 to -20 degrees C earlier, now, it’s -2, making it more susceptible to melting.
The rising use of cement structures replacing the traditional wood and stone masonry in the Himalayas is causing temperatures to rise in the mountainous region. In the Himalayas, there are about 8,000 glacial lakes, of which 200 have been classified as dangerous.
The Times of India report also quotes a para from a Special Report on Oceans and Cryptosphere (SROCC) by Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC). It states that glacier retreat is projected to decrease the stability of mountain slopes and increase the number and area of glacier lakes. This will lead to landslides and floods in areas “where there is no record of previous events”.
The report further states that the number and area of glacier lakes will increase in most regions, and new lakes will develop closer to “steep and potentially unstable mountain walls where lake outbursts can be more easily triggered by the impact of landslides”.
Another report in Hindustan Times quoted D P Dobhal, a former glaciologist at Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology in Dehradun. He said that due to global warming, more glaciers are melting or retreating and there is less snow.
Talking to the newspaper, Prof Anil Kulkarni of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, also suspected that this was a classic case of climate change impact on a glacier. He said that such disasters will become exceedingly common due to climate change as more and more glaciers retreat.
Catch all the latest updates on the Uttarakhand glacier burst here
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