glaciers-in-sikkim-are-losing-mass-faster-than-other-parts-of-the-himalaya

Studies have found that glaciers in Sikkim are melting at a higher magnitude as compared to other Himalayan regions. The study also reveals that Black carbon concentrations near the Gangotri glacier rose 400 times in summer.

  • The monthly mean concentration of EBC (equivalent black carbon) was found to be minimum in August and maximum in the month of May.

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  1. The study assessed the response of 23 glaciers of Sikkim to climate change for the period of 1991-2015 and found that the magnitude of dimensional changes and debris growth are higher in the Sikkim.  
  2. It revealed that Small-sized glaciers are retreating and large glaciers are thinning significantly.
  3. It also stated that contrary to the western and central Himalaya, where glaciers are reported to have slowed down in recent decades, the Sikkim glaciers have shown negligible deceleration after 2000. 
  4. The prime driver for deglaciation is believed to be the summer temperature rise.
  5. The Sikkim glaciers have been poorly studied till now, and field-based mass balance measurements have been limited to only one glacier (ChangmeKhangpu) and for a short period (1980-1987). 
  6. This study, for the first time, studied multiple glacier parameters, namely length, area, debris cover, snowline altitude (SLA), glacial lakes, velocity, and downwasting, and explored interlinkage among them to present a clear picture about status and behavior of glaciers in the Sikkim.

Causes of rise in Black Carbon Concentration

  • The seasonal cycle of increase was significantly influenced by the emissions resulting from agriculture burning (in western part of the country), forest fires (along the Himalayan slopes) in summer.
  • To some extent it also got exacerbated by the contribution from long-range transport of pollutants in winter, depending on the prevailing meteorological conditions.

Black Carbon

  • IT results from the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels and biomass. 
  • The fine particles absorb light and about a million times more energy than carbon dioxide
  • It is said to be the second largest contributor to climate change after CO2.
  •  But unlike CO2, which can stay in the atmosphere for years together, black carbon is short-lived and remains in the atmosphere only for days to weeks, before it descends as rain or snow.

Equivalent Black Carbon (EBC) aerosols 

  • They contribute significantly towards global warming due to its light-absorbing nature
  • Their presence in the eco-sensitive zone, such as the Himalayan glacier valleys, is a matter of serious concern and needs to be meticulously monitored.

Also readMelting Of Glaciers And Climate Change

Black Carbon Levels Spike At Himalayan Glaciers

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Image Source: PIB