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Glacier Response to Climate in Arctic and Himalaya During Last Seventeen Years: A Case Study of Svalbard, Arctic and Chandra Basin, Himalaya

  • Parmanand SharmaEmail author
  • Lavkush Kumar Patel
  • Ajit T. Singh
  • Thamban Meloth
  • Rasik Ravindra
Chapter

Abstract

Glaciers are widely known as one of the best indicators of climate change impacting the Earth over past few centuries. The glaciers are melting world over and those in Arctic and Himalaya are no exception. Both of these regions are second only to Antarctic and Greenland, in terms of vast coverage of snow and ice. The Svalbard glaciers and ice caps cover an area of 34,600 km2 with a total ice volume of roughly 7000 km3 while Himalaya occupy nearly 38,000 Km2 area. Himalaya, which is considered water tower for Asia because of presence of thousands of glaciers, has shown enhanced melting of its glaciers during past one and a half decade. Since more than 1.3 billion people living in the major river basins downstream, depend upon the water for their survival, the management of water resources is a key responsibility of resources managers. The Arctic area demonstrates high latitude –low altitude glaciated area, the Himalayan glaciers on the other hand represent a terrain of high altitude but low latitudes. In spite of having these contrasting geographical attributes, the glaciers in both the regions show a general increased melting during the present decades.

The climate response of large fraction of glaciers of Arctic and Himalaya is significantly linked with atmospheric changes and ocean circulation. Atmospheric changes are one of the main influencing factors for Himalayan glaciers whereas for Arctic region, atmospheric changes and ocean circulations together influence the glaciers. Snow and glaciers melt in Arctic enhanced significantly due to large temperature changes, changes in sea ice cover, atmospheric flow patterns and precipitation. Ocean circulation close to fjord modulates melt rates of marine-terminating glaciers all over the Arctic. The mass balance data from both the region has been used to address the questions of how rapidly these glaciers are adjusting to climate. The mean annual mass balance of Chandra basin and Svalbard Arctic area, during last one and a half decade, is −0.67 ± 0.14 m w.e. and −0.36 ± 0.02 m w.e., respectively. There has been a gradual warming with an apparent stronger trend observed in both the regions during the last one and half decade.

Keywords

Glaciers Ice caps Mass balance Himalaya Arctic 

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Parmanand Sharma
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lavkush Kumar Patel
    • 1
  • Ajit T. Singh
    • 1
  • Thamban Meloth
    • 1
  • Rasik Ravindra
    • 1
  1. 1.National Centre for Polar and Ocean ResearchVasco da GamaIndia

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