A Revised Glacier Inventory of Bhaga Basin Himachal Pradesh, India : Current Status and Recent Glacier Variations
Keywords: Cryosphere, Himalaya, Glacier Inventory,Glacier Changes, Satellite Remote Sensing
Abstract. Himalayan glaciers show large uncertainty regarding their present and future state due to their sensitive reaction towards change in climatic condition. Himalayan glaciers are unique as they are located in tropical, high altitude regions, predominantly valley type and many are covered with debris. The great northern plains of India sustain on the perennial melt of glaciers meeting the water requirements of agriculture, industries, domestic sector even in the months of summer when large tracts of the country go dry. Therefore, it is important to monitor and assess the state of snow and glaciers and to know the sustainability of glaciers in view of changing global scenarios of climate and water security of the nation. Any information pertaining to Himalayan glaciers is normally difficult to be obtained by conventional means due to its harsh weather and rugged terrains. Due to the ecological diversity and geographical vividness, major part of the Indian Himalaya is largely un-investigated. Considering the fact that Himalayan glaciers are situated in a harsh environment, conventional techniques of their study is challenging and difficult both in terms of logistics and finances whereas the satellite remote sensing offers a potential mode for monitoring glaciers in long term. In order to gain an updated overview of the present state of the glacier cover and its changes since the previous inventories, an attempt has been made to generate a new remotesensing- derived glacier inventory on 1:50,000 scale for Bhaga basin (N32°28'19.7'' - N33°0'9.9'' ; E76°56'16.3'' - E77°25'23.7'' ) Western Himalaya covering an area of 1695.63 km2. having 231 glaciers and occupying glacierized area of 385.17 ±3.71 km2. ranging from 0.03 km2. to 29.28 km2. Glacier inventory has been carried out using high resolution IRS P6 LISS III data of 2011, ASTER DEM and other ancillary data. Specific measurements of mapped glacier features are the inputs for generating the glacier inventory data sheet with 37 parameters as per the UNESCO/TTS format, 11 additional parameters associated with the de-glaciated valley as per the suggestions of Space Application Center Ahmadabad and 9 newly introduced parameters of present study. The data sheet provides glacier wise details for each glacier on the significant glacier parameters like morphology, dimensions, orientation, elevation, etc. for both the active glacier component as well as the associated de-glaciated valley features. Assessment of recent variation in the glacierized area between 2001 and 2011. Results indicate that 231 glaciers covering an area of 391.56 ±3.76 km2. in 2001 has been reduced to 385.17 ±3.71 km2. in 2011; a loss of 1.63 ±1.0% in glacierized area within a period of 10 years. The present paper brings out the methodology adopted and salient results of the glacier inventory carried out which will help to enrich the existing database required for water resources assessment of the country and also meet the requirements of various researches working on climate change related studies.