Significance of glacio-morphological factors in glacier retreat: a case study of part of Chenab basin, Himalaya


A study has been carried out in part of Chenab basin, Himalaya to understand the relationship between glacio-morphological factors and change in glacial area. Initially change in areal extent of glaciers was derived for two time frames (1962-2001/02 and 2001/02-2010/11). The study comprised of 324 glaciers for the monitoring period of 1962-2001/02 for, which 11% loss in glacial area was observed. Two hundred and thirty-eight glaciers were further monitored between 2001/02 and 2010/11. These glaciers showed an area loss of 1.1%. The annual deglaciation has been found to be higher during the period of 1962-2001/02 compared to 2001/02-2010/11. The spatial and temporal variability in deglaciation was also addressed using glacio-morphic parameters. Area, length, percentage of debris cover, and various elevation parameters of glaciers were observed to have significant controls on relationships to the rate of glacial shrinkage. Larger-area and longer glaciers show a lower percentage of retreat than smaller and shorter ones. Moreover, glaciers located at lower altitudes and having gentle slopes show more area retreat. The results of area retreat in debris covered and debris free glaciers supports that the glaciers covered by debris retard ice melting at some extent. 158 glaciers were observed having no debris cover, and these exhibit 14% of loss in surface area. In glaciers having 40% debris cover, 8% of deglaciation was observed. The glaciers located below equilibrium line altitude (ELA) have experienced 4.6% of deglaciation for the time frame 2001/02–2010/11 whereas it was found to be 1.1% for the glaciers occurring above ELA. However, the orientation of glaciers did not show any considerable influence on glacial change based on hypothesis.

Journal of Mountain Science