Glacier changes on the Indian side of Karakoram-Himalayas: What We Know So Far
Saurabh Vijay, Research Associate at the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center
Abstract: The mountain ranges (e.g. Himalaya, Karakoram, Tibetan Plateau) of high-mountain Asia are a home for thousands of glaciers. Spread across various international borders in different orographic setups, these glaciers are influenced by several atmospheric circulations including Indian summer monsoon. Therefore, glacier change monitoring is vital to understand regional climatic change. Indian glaciers are of national importance. The Ganges River, considered sacred in Hinduism, originates from Gangotri Glacier, one of the longest glaciers of India. Snow and ice melt from the mountains play a crucial role for a large population living nearby (e.g. drinking water, agriculture). In the last several decades, the Government of India setup couple of key institutions to monitor few glacier systems of Karakoram-Himalaya using traditional field surveys. The knowledge had been limited to a few systems and couldn’t be consolidated for open research. In recent years, many international groups have used a variety of remote sensing data (e.g. optical, radar, altimetry) to document glacier mass change trends of high-mountain Asia. In this presentation, I will present a synopsis emphasizing changes on the Indian side of Karakoram-Himalaya. I will show our previous work in the region using global radar missions (SRTM and TanDEM-X). These results are spatially detailed shedding lights on regionally heterogeneous changes and potential factors that drive such changes. I will also speak about my journey to a debris-covered glacier - Satopanth Glacier in October 2018 through interesting images, also showing existing capacities at the glacier base built by our partners. In the end, I will highlight a few key research topics that need more attention in the future.