Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 15, Issue 6, pp 1199–1208 | Cite as

Field evidences showing rapid frontal degeneration of the Kangriz glacier, western Himalayas, Jammu & Kashmir

  • Siddhi Garg
  • Aparna Shukla
  • Manish Mehta
  • Vinit Kumar
  • Shruti Anna Samuel
  • S. K. Bartarya
  • Uma Kant Shukla


Life cycle of glaciers in the Himalayan region has notably changed due to the climatic variability since last few decades. Glaciers across the world and specially the Himalayan glaciers have shown large scale degeneration in the last few decades. Himalayan glaciers serve as an important fresh water resource for the downstream communities, who are dependent on this water for domestic and other purposes. Therefore, glacier shrinkage and the associated hydrological changes pose a significant problem for regional-scale water budgets and resource management. These issues necessitate the regular and rigorous monitoring of the wastage pattern of the Himalayan glaciers in field and using satellite remote sensing data. In this work, we report rapid and enhanced degeneration of the frontal part of the Kangriz glacier, Jammu and Kashmir (J & K), in terms of surface melting, debris cover, snout characteristics and meltwater discharge. Ablation data acquired during 2016–2017 shows the average lowering of the frontal part of the glacier to be ~148 ± 34 cm, one-third of which was found to have occurred within a 13 day time period in September, 2017. Also, the quantum of ice melt was found to be inversely influenced (r = -0.84) by the debris thickness. 15 day meltwater discharge measurement revealed its strong relationship with snout disintegration pattern, evidenced twice during the said time period. Volume of water discharged from the glacier was estimated to be 7.91×106 m3 for the measurement duration. Also, mean daily discharge estimated for the 15 days interval showed good positive correction (r = 0.78) with temperature indicating the direct dependency of the former on land surface temperature conditions of the region. Besides the lowering and discharge observations, the frequent ice-block break-offs at the glacier snout further enhance its overall drastic degeneration. The study suggests that, being the largest glacier in the Suru basin, the Kangriz glacier needs to be continuously monitored in order to understand its glacio-hydrological conditions.


Glacier shrinkage Western Himalayas Surface lowering Degeneration Meltwater discharge 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.



The authors are grateful to Dr. Meera Tiwari, Director, Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, Dehradun for providing all the facilities and support for successful conduction of our field and research work. The authors also thankfully acknowledge the financial support provided by the National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem (NMSHE) project, Department of Science and Technology (DST), India in construction of the discharge site and for the successful completion of the field work. Authors thank the two anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments and insightful suggestions for improving the original article and the editorial team of the Journal of Mountain Science for timely processing of the article.


  1. Azam MF, Wagnon P, Vincent C, et al. (2014) Reconstruction of the annual mass balance of ChhotaShigri glacier, Western Himalaya, India, since 1969. Annals of Glaciology 55(66): 69–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Barnett TP, Adam JC, Lettenmaier DP (2005) Potential impacts of a warming climate on water availability in snow-dominated regions. Nature 438: 303–309. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bhutiyani MR (2000) Sediment load characteristics of a proglacial stream of Siachen Glacier and the erosion rate in Nubra valley in the Karakoram Himalayas, India. Journal of Hydrology 227: 84–92. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Chudley TR, Miles ES, Willis IC (2017) Glacier characteristics and retreat between 1991 and 2014 in the Ladakh Range, Jammu and Kashmir. Remote Sensing Letters 8(6): 518–527. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Dobhal DP, Mehta M, Srivastava D (2013) Influence of debris cover on terminus retreat and mass changes of Chorabari Glacier, Garhwal region, central Himalaya, India. Journal of Glaciology 59(217): 961–971. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Ganjoo RK, Koul MN (2013) Asynchronous Behavior of Glaciers of Ladakh Himalaya, J&K State. India Earth System Processes and Disaster Management, Society of Earth Scientists Series 1. Chapter 3. Google Scholar
  7. Harris I, Jones PD, Osborna TJ, et al. (2013) Updated highresolution grids of monthly climatic observations–the CRU TS3.10 Dataset. International Journal of Climatology 34(3): 623–642. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Huabiao Z, Tandong Y, Baiqing X (2007) Preliminary results on hydrological and hydrochemical features of Kartamak Glacier area in Mt. Muztag Ata. Journal of Mountain Science 4(1):77–85. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Immerzeel WW, Beek LPH, Bierkens MFP (2010) Climate change will affect the Asian water towers. Science 328(5984): 1382–1385. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Immerzeel WW, Droogers P, DeJong SM, et al. (2009) Largescale monitoring of snow cover and runoff simulation in Himalayan river basins using remote sensing. Remote Sensing of Environment 113: 40–49. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. IPCC, Climate Change (2014) Synthesis Report. Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. IPCC, Geneva, Switzerland. p 151.Google Scholar
  12. Kaab A, Treichler D, Nuth C, et al. (2015) Brief communication: Contending estimates of 2003–2008 glacier mass balance over the Pamir-Karakoram-Himalaya. The Cryosphere 9(2): 557–564. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Karakoti I, Kesarwani K, Mehta M, et al. (2016) Extended Tindex models for glacier surface melting: a case study from Chorabari Glacier, Central Himalaya, India. Theoretical and Applied Climatology 126: 401–410. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Kamp U, Byrne M, Bolch T. (2011) Mapping glacier fluctuations between 1975 and 2008 in the Greater Himalaya Range of Ladakh, north-western India. Journal of Mountain Sciences 8:374–389. doi: Google Scholar
  15. Kumar A, Gokhale AA, Shukla T, et al. (2016) Hydroclimatic influence on particle size distribution of suspended sediments evacuated from debris-covered Chorabari Glacier, upper Mandakini catchment, central Himalaya. Geomorphology 265: 45–67. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kumar A, Verma A, Dobhal DP, et al. (2014) Climatic control on extreme sediment transfer from Dokriani Glacier during monsoon, Garhwal Himalayas, India. Journal of Earth System Science 123(1):109–120. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Liu W, Ren J, Qin X, et al. (2010) Hydrological Characteristics of the Rongbuk Glacier Catchment in Mt. Qomolangma Region in the Central Himalayas, China. Journal of mountain science 7(2):146–156. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Miller JD, Immerzeel WW, Rees G (2012) Climate change impacts on glacier hydrology and river discharge in the Hindu Kush–Himalayas. Mountain Research and Development 32 (4): 461–467.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Nemec J (1972) Hydrological analysis and Design. In: Engineering Hydrology, Mc-Graw Hill London. pp 162–166.Google Scholar
  20. Mir RA, Majeed Z (2016) Frontal recession of Parkachik Glacier between 1971–2015, Zanskar Himalaya using remote sensing and field data. Geocarto International 32(2): 163–177. Google Scholar
  21. Murtaza KO, Romshoo SA (2015) Recent glacier changes in the Kashmir Alpine Himalayas, India. Geocarto International. Google Scholar
  22. Pandey AC, Ghosh S, Nathawat, MS (2011) Evaluating patterns of temporal glacier changes in Greater Himalayan Range, Jammu and Kashmir, India. Geocarto International 26(4): 321–228. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Paterson WSB (1994) The physics of glaciers (3rd edn). Elsevier, Oxford.Google Scholar
  24. Pratap B, Dobhal DP, Mehta M, et al. (2015) Influence of debris cover and altitude on glacier surface melting: a case study on Dokriani Glacier, central Himalaya, India. Annals of Glaciology 56(70): 9–16. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Raina VK, Srivastava D (2008) Glacier atlas of India. Bangalore: Geological Society of India. p 316.Google Scholar
  26. Raina VK (2009) Himalayan glaciers: a state-of-art review of glacial studies, glacial retreat and climate change. (MoEF Discussion Paper) Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India/GB Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development, New Delhi/Kosi-Katarmal. Google Scholar
  27. Reznichenko N, Tim Davies T, Shulmeister J, et al. (2010) Effects of debris on ice-surface melting rates: an experimental study. Journal of Glaciology 56(197): 384–394. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Schmidt S, Nusser M (2017) Changes of High Altitude Glaciers in the Trans-Himalaya of Ladakh over the Past Five Decades (1969–2016). Geosciences 2(7).
  29. Shukla A, Ali I, Hasan N, et al. (2017) Dimensional changes in the Kolahoi glacier from 1857–2014. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 189(5): 1–18. Google Scholar
  30. Shukla A, Qadir J (2016) Differential response of glaciers with varying debris cover extent: evidence from changing glacier parameters. International Journal of Remote Sensing 37(11): 2453–2479. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Singh VB, Ramanathan AL, Mandal A, et al. (2015b) Transportation of suspended sediment from meltwater of the Patsio Glacier, Western Himalaya, India. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, India Section A: Physical Sciences 85(1): 169–175CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Singh VB, Ramanathan AL, Pottakkal JG (2016) Glacial runoff and transport of suspended sediment from the ChhotaShigri glacier, Western Himalaya, India. Environment Earth Science 75: 695. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Srivastava D, Kumar A, Verma A, et al. (2014) Analysis of climate and melt-runoff in Dunagiri Glacier of Garhwal Himalayas (India). Water Resources Management 28: 3035–3055. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Thayyen RJ, Gergan JT, Dobhal DP, et al. (2005) Monsoonal control on glacier discharge and hydrograph characteristics, a case study of Dokriani Glacier, Garhwal Himalaya, India. Journal of hydrology 306: 37–49. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Wan Z, Dozier J (1996) A generalized split-window algorithm for retrievingland surface temperature from space. IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Society 34 (4): 892–905.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Wan Z (2014) New refinements and validation of the Collection-6 MODIS land-surface temperature/emissivity products. Remote Sensing of Environment 140: 36–45. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Zhang Y, Fujita K, Liu S, et al. (2011) Distribution of debris thickness and its effect on ice melt at Hailuogou glacier, southeastern Tibetan Plateau, using in situ surveys and ASTER imagery. Journal of Glaciology 57(206): 1147–1157. CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Wadia Institute of Himalayan GeologyDehradunIndia
  2. 2.Department of GeologyBanaras Hindu UniversityVaranasiIndia

Personalised recommendations