Experts at the Almora-based GB Pant National Institute of Himalayan Environment and Sustainable Development (GBPNIHESD) conducted a study of the glacier set in Uttarkashi from 2008 till 2016.
They found out that the rate of retreat of Gangotri glacier has reduced to 11 meters since 2008 from 35 meters, last recorded in 1974.
On one hand, the rate of slowing down of recession is good news, on the other the major concern becomes the thinning of the base of the 30 km long glacier.
Being a huge glacier, Gangotri extends over a total area of 144 sq km. Due to this advantage, it takes longer to show any change in terms of climatic patterns.
However, there are cases of indirect impact caused due to small glaciers located above Gangotri. So when temperatures rise, these glaciers melt fast as they are small in size. Thus the water generated from them flows down and seeps into the crevasses of the Gangotri glacier, causing them to melt from the bottom.
The right side of the base is most affected as these small glaciers are on the right side of the Gangotri glacier. Thus the glacier has become vulnerable to fragmentation which would result in breakage and loss of water.
Researches are expected to do precise studies on how the retreating and mass thinning of the glacier will impact the water outflow.
Gangotri glacier is a dynamic structure. Tectonic activities keep happening and creating fissures below its surface. And so, there are many factors that affect its gradient, bed slopes, volume, sources, etc. Each of these factors has to be studied precisely before arriving at any conclusion.
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