East Rathong Glacier chosen as index glacier for long term studies

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Gangtok, May 6 (UNI) The East Rathong Glacier, located in West Sikkim, has been chosen as the ''index glacier'' by a high level commission for long term study of impact of global warming on the 84 glaciers in the Himalayan state.

Official sources said a team of Glacier and Climatic Change Commission, headed by Prof S I Hasnain, had visited the area and observed the glacier for ten days before returning to Gangtok on May 3.

The expedition was undertaken to check the suitability of the East Rathong glacier to be used as a benchmark for long term measurement of mass balance, energy balance and hydrological balance, a state government release informed.

''The glacier is ideal for long term studies in Sikkim Himalayan region and could be used for developing long term time series,'' the release added.

Various studies have been planned by the Glacier Commission on this index glacier regarding summer and winter accumulation of snow and hydrological study regarding the velocity of ice and mass changes in the glacier will be studied over a period of time.

Two prominent glacial lakes are present in the glacier with an area of 0.5 sq kms and 0.25 kms respectively and both are dammed by moraines with small outlets. There is a need for continuous monitoring of these lakes, the committee said.

The glacier meets the guidelines of the International Association of Cyrospheric Sciences.

The glacier is a south facing, debris free, summer nourished glacier and has easy accessibility with a well established Himalayan Mountaineering Institute base camp.

A team for Department of Space, Government of India, would also observe Sikkim glaciers to survey glacier depth using radar system.

A team from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), headed by Professor Dr Milapchand Sharma, will also undertake a glacier expedition in Sikkim this month.

Meanwhile, the Indian Institute of Technolgy (IIT), Mumbai, has taken up microwave remote sensing studies for various glaciers of Sikkim.

The Sikkim government had constituted the Glacier Commission on January 17 to study the state of the glaciers and suggest measures for modern scientific and technological interventions on the issue of glaciology management and draw up an action plan.

The commission is expected to submit its recommendations by December this year.

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