X Close

Siachen Glacier melting slower than others in Himalayas


BENGALURU: The Siachen Glacier is escaping the high rate of melting that other Himalayan glaciers are experiencing due to the impact of climate change. This means that the glacier, which is considered strategic to both India and Pakistan, is likely to remain the highest battleground in the world for many more decades to come than imagined.

A team of researchers from the University of Leeds, which studied 14,798 Himalayan glaciers during and since the Little Ice Age (which occurred between the 14th and 19th century) by computer reconstruction of the sizes and ice surfaces of these glaciers, has found these glaciers to be melting at a rate ten times faster, losing around 40 per cent of their area — shrinking from a peak of 28,000 sqkm to around 19,600 sqkm today.

However, renowned glaciologist and professor at the Divecha Centre for Climate Change (DCCC) at the Indian Institute of Science, Dr Anil V Kulkarni told The New Indian Express that despite Himalayan glaciers losing ice ten times quicker than on an average in the last 400 to 700 years, as found by the University of Leeds researchers, Siachen Glacier will remain relatively stable longer. 

He explained that the Siachen Glacier, situated north of Ladakh and wedged between the Trans Karakoram Tract in the north, Gilgit-Baltistan in the west and Aksai Chin in the east, is in the Karakoram mountain range and is subject to the “Karakoram anomaly”. This deviation in glacial melt trend found in Siachen Glacier is part of an anomalous growth of glaciers in the central Karakoram, which is in contrast to the retreat of glaciers in nearby Himalayan ranges. This means glaciers within the range — including Siachen — are relatively stable, despite glaciers in nearby regions retreating and shrinking faster due to global warming.