Abstracts of papers to be presented in session on Mountain Hazards
Impact Of Changes In Snow Pattern And Glacier Dynamics On Himalayan Ecology
By: Ashwagosha Ganju
Recent studies have confirmed that glaciers in Himalaya have retreated in the last century. The larger glaciers appear to have receded at a comparatively lower rate than the glaciers with smaller length. The rate of recession of glaciers appears to have accelerated in the last three decades of the last century. This period coincides with increase in air temperature in the Himalayas. The glaciers for which long-term variation data are available, shows that these glaciers have retreated at different rates in different time periods of the last century. The rate appears to have increased significantly thereafter and has accelerated since late eighties. This indicates that the temporal pattern of variation in glacier length appears to have been influenced by the increasing air temperature in the last century and the glaciers in the Himalayas have responded to changes in temperature significantly. Statistically significant decrease in the average annual and monsoon discharge and insignificant increase in winter and spring discharge, with the increasing temperatures during all the three seasons is observed. Since, the population in Himalayan region is increasing at the rate of 2% annually. The survival of the population in Himalaya is dependent on the efficient and sustainable exploitation of the resources. Various efforts have been made at the national as well as state levels towards afforestation, and diversification of agriculture to make the terrain economically more productive, as well environmentally sustainable. The major developmental works of construction of roads, bridges, hydropower dams, etc. in the otherwise fragile Himalaya is associated with several environmental issues such as hazards of slope instability, high sediment discharge, siltation in dams/reservoirs and vulnerability of water induced seismicity in Himalaya. There seems to be an imperative need for a mission for sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem, to evolve management measures for sustaining and safeguarding the Himalayan glacier and mountain eco-system.
An overview of the Impacts of Changing Climatic Conditions and Landuse Practices on Mass Movements in Hilly Terrains of Indian Himalaya
By: Surya Prakash
Himalaya constitutes the longest, widest and the highest hilly terrains in India that play an important role in governing the climatic conditions, fresh water resources and fertile lands of the country to a significant extent. The mountains are young, geo-dynamically active, fragile and environmentally sensitive in nature. These are also a store-house of natural wealth such as wide variety of biodiversity including rare and medicinal plants; fresh water bodies like glaciers, rivers and lakes; reserved forests, mineral and energy resources. However, the Himalayan environment is adversely affected by high degree of seismicity, numerous landslides and avalanches, deforestation, flash floods, forest fires, lightning and other endemic hazards. The increasing influx of human population and activities for exploiting the natural resources and implementing developmental programmes in a haphazard manner have aggravated the situation further. Large number of power projects, irrigation projects, dams/reservoirs, mining, road construction, housing developmental activities, and industrial projects etc. are being implemented without due care for systematic scientific studies and environmental concerns. Besides the human interface between development and nature, the dynamicity of climate induces variability in atmospheric conditions and processes through changes in temperature, pressure, precipitation, snow-fall, and glacial retreat etc. The impacts of changing climatic conditions and landuse practices on the terrain stability and the occurrence of natural hazards as well as life supporting system including natural resources would be very severe on human safety, development and sustenance if adequate steps are not taken timely by the affected population.
Several types of natural hazards including flooding, droughts, forest fires, cloudburst, debris flows, landslides, avalanches, GLOFS and LLOFS etc. are prominent events that change their distribution, frequency and magnitude with changes in climatic conditions and landuse practices. There is a dire need to study the correlations between climatic changes, landuse practices and the occurrences / characteristics of these natural hazards. The results of such scientific studies should serve as an input to policy, planning and risk management at different levels in society and governance. The paper focuses on some of the significant initiatives taken by the Government of India as part of adaptation / mitigation strategies for changing climate conditions and related risks. Various ministries and departments like Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Ministry of Science & Technology, National Disaster Management Authority, National Institute of Disaster Management and some Non-Governmental Organizations etc. have been working in different ways in India to minimize climate related risks and enhance the capacity to resist, reduce and react appropriately. Some international organizations like United Nations Organization, International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development and SAARC Disaster Management Centre are also working at regional levels to study the cross-border issues and understand them in the regional context. The paper summarizes some of these efforts and discusses them briefly along with some international initiatives.
Artificial Glacier: A High Altitude Cold Desert Water Conservation Technique
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