Cryosphere Studies in Himalaya


The Cryosphere is the second largest component of the climate system, after the ocean, that stores about 75% of the world’s freshwater. In terms of the ice mass and its heat capacity, therefore, it plays a significant role in the global climate. The Himalaya forms the most important concentration of snow covered region outside the polar region. The Himalayan glaciers are highly sensitive to the on-going warming. The detailed glacier inventory of Indian Himalayas (GSI, SAC) indicates presence of 9579 glaciers in the Himalaya, some of which form the perennial source of major rivers. Changes in glaciers are one of the clearest indicators of alterations in regional climate, since they are governed by changes in accumulation (from snowfall) and ablation (by melting of ice). The difference between accumulation and ablation or the mass balance is crucial to the health of a glacier.

a) Objectives

  1. To study the dynamics and the rate of change in glaciers to understand its impact on hydrology, ecology and climate;
  2. To assess the climate change using ice as an archive of information on past climate and its future implications.
  3. To study the biogeochemical aspects of Himalayan ice and compare it with the polar environment.

b) Participating Institutions

  1. National Centre for Antarctica and Ocean Research, Goa
  2. India Meteorology Department. Delhi

c) Implementation plan

  1. Establishing AWS (in association with IMD) and Observational huts at the areas close to the snout of the glaciers for monitoring purposes, conduct geomorphological mapping of glacial landforms.
  2. Undertake airborne and ground GPR surveys over the above and below the ELA and conduct drilling for retrieving ice cores at selected sites, conduct sampling for TL/OSL,AMS dating to establish chronology of retreat of glaciers
  3. (iv) Monitor the seasonal snow cover with the help of satellite remote sensing data, collect winter and summer snow samples to study variation in pattern, size, and chemistry of the aerosol and particulate matter on the snow surface

d) Deliverables

The glaciological studies comprising mass balance, GPR profiles and snow cover assessment, conducted over a sufficient length of time will reflect the health of the glaciers. Glacial melt streams and run off thereof would give important feedback to the hydrological system.

e) Budget requirement : 70 crores

(Rs. In crores)

Budget Requirement
Name of the Scheme 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 Total
Himalayan Cryosphere Studies 20.00 15.00 15.00 10.00 10.00 70.00


Last Updated On 04/09/2015 - 10:51
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