Global warming making Siachen riskier for soldiers
Siachen, Aug 14 Climate change is making the life of the soldiers posted in the world's highest and arduous battlefield - Siachen Glacier - not just tough but also dangerous, as temperature rises and the snow melts faster.
Siachen, which has the dubious distinction of having seen more soldiers dying due to extreme weather (temperatures at times drop below -50 degree celcius) than the enemy bullet, is feeling the heat of global warming.
The death of 10 soldiers earlier this year in an avalanche in the critical Sonam post, located close to the Line of Control with Pakistan, was due to global warming.
"The entire incident (at Sonam) was because of climate change only. Because, we generally don't have ice avalanches. Avalanches are generally snow avalanches. "What happened in Sonam was that a hanging glacier, which was stuck to the ice wall had fallen off. That was just because in the last 15 or 20 days (prior to the accident), the temperature had been rising," Lt Col S Sengupta, Commandant of the Siachen Battle School told PTI.
Lance Naik Hanumanthappa, who was rescued after being buried 30 feet below snow for six days at the Sonam Post, located at about 19,600 feet, could not be saved. Sengupta said that climate change actually makes the glacier break, due to which a lot of crevasses, one of the deadliest enemies of the soldier in Siachen, keep coming up. "It (rising temperature) is making life tough," he said.
The Army has now taken some precautionary measures and even moved some of the posts a little. Keeping ice avalanches in mind, the Army is buying special radars that can detect humans buried under ice, unlike the earlier ones which could detect only through the snow.
The Army is also equipping its men with Avalanche Buoyance Systems - air bags that can be triggered remotely - which prevent burial in an avalanche by providing extra buoyancy. The effect of the climate change is such that the snout of the Siachen Glacier has actually receded back by about 800 metres in the last one decade or so.