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Pensilungpa Glacier in Zanskar region of Ladakh retreating, WIHG study finds

Vijay Mohan

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 6

The Pensilungpa Glacier located in Zanskar region of Ladakh is retreating, and a recent study has attributed this to an increase in the temperature and decrease in precipitation during winter.

Field observations by scientists from the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WIHG), Dehradun, for the last four years (2015-2019) showed that the glacier is now retreating by at an average rate of 6.7 metres per annum. The study was published in the journal Regional Environmental Change.

The study also points at the significant influence of debris cover on the mass balance and retreat of the glacier’s endpoint, especially in summer. Furthermore, the mass balance data for the last three years (2016-2019) showed a negative trend with a small accumulation area ratio.

Since 2015, WIHG, an autonomous institute under the Department of Science and Technology, has been working on various aspects on glaciology such as glacier health monitoring, dynamics, discharge, past climatic conditions, speculation for future climate change and its impact on glaciers in this region.

A team of scientists from the institute ventured out to study the less-explored region of the Himalayas, which includes the Zanskar, according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Science and Technology on Friday.

The study also suggests that due to continuous rise in the air temperature in line with the global trend, the melting would increase, and it is possible that the precipitation of summer periods at higher altitudes will change from snow to rain, and that may influence the summer and winter patterns.

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