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
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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.
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