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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- 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.
- It revealed that Small-sized glaciers are retreating and large glaciers are thinning significantly.
- 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.
- The prime driver for deglaciation is believed to be the summer temperature rise.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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 read: Melting Of Glaciers And Climate Change
Image Source: PIB