Glacial Retreat

Glacial Retreat

News: Recent studies on Himalayan glaciers show that the variability in retreat rate and mass balance in different sectors of the mountain range is primarily linked to topography and climate.

Which factors contribute to Glacial retreat?
 A study by Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (Uttarakhand) of 2 glaciers Pensilungpa (Ladakh) and Durung Drung (Ladakh) between 1971 and 2019 revealed following facts.
 Their study confirms that the glacier retreat rate is controlled by climate change and the topographic setting and morphology of the glacier.
 They also found that the thickness of the debris cover significantly alters the glacier response to climate forcing.
 Other factors such as snout geometry, glacier size, elevation range, slope, aspect, debris cover, as well as the presence of supra and proglacial lakes also influence the heterogeneous glacial dynamics.

What is Glacial retreat?
 Glacial retreat refers to the process of a glacier shrinking or receding in size over time due to a decrease in ice accumulation or an increase in ice melt.
 Factors responsible for Glacial retreat include rising global temperatures, changes in precipitation pattern, or when surrounding geography changes.
 As a glacier retreats, it can lead to a number of significant environmental impacts, including changes in water availability, alterations to local ecosystems, and increased risk of natural disasters such as floods and landslides.
 It also contributes to rising sea levels which impacts those living near coastal areas.

Significance of Glacier
 Glaciers play a significant role as reservoirs of water, habitats for species, enhancing electric power generation, as well as serving as tourist destinations.
 The balance between the advance and ablation of glaciers, termed as mass balance (or budget), is an essential measure in sustaining Earth’s ecosystem.
 Glacial shrinking is higher today than it has been in the last 100 years. It is estimated that the Arctic could be ice-free by 2040 if the current rate of glacial melting is not stopped. 

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