Depth profiling and recessional history of the Hamtah and Parang glaciers in Lahaul and Spiti, Himachal Pradesh, Indian Himalaya
A. K. Swain, M. A. Mukhtar, Z. Majeed, S. P. Shukla, 2018. "Depth profiling and recessional history of the Hamtah and Parang glaciers in Lahaul and Spiti, Himachal Pradesh, Indian Himalaya", The Himalayan Cryosphere: Past and Present, N.C. Pant, R. Ravindra, D. Srivastava, L.G. Thompson
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The Himalaya are often referred to as the third pole of the Earth because they host the largest areal extent of glaciation outside the polar regions. Estimating the volume of these glaciers is challenging because the ice thickness of most of the glaciers is not accurately known. Depth profiling of the north-facing Hamtah and Parang glaciers was carried out using ground-penetrating radar surveys. The 6 km long Hamtah glacier and the 2.5 km long Parang glacier, with average widths of 350 and 250 m, respectively, are located in different U-shaped valleys. The depth of the ice–bedrock interface varied from 35 to 95 m in the Hamtah glacier and from 40 to 140 m in the Parang glacier. The valley profiles and ground-penetrating radar data were combined to obtain the volumes of the glaciers. The total volumes of ice in the Parang and Hamtah glaciers were estimated to be 0.179 and 0.375 km3, respectively. Shape analyses of different parts of these glaciers suggest that mathematical equations can be used to describe their sequential development. The retreat rates of the Parang and Hamtah glaciers were estimated to be 11.04 and 16.10 m a−1, respectively.
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The Himalaya mountains contain not only one of the largest concentrations of ice outside the polar regions, but contribute to the hydrological requirements of large populations spread over seven nations. The exceptionally high elevations of this low-latitude cryosphere presents a natural laboratory and archives to study climate–tectonics interactions as well as regional v. global climate influences. The existing base-level data on the Himalayan cryosphere are highly variable. Several climate fluctuations occurred during the late Quaternary (MIS1–MIS5, especially the last c. 100 ka), which led to the evolution of the Himalayan landscape. Detailed studies of these archives, along with those of the present cryosphere and related hydrosphere, are essential for understanding the controls on present and future hydrology of the glacial-fed mountain rivers.
This volume, a follow-up of the XII International Symposium on Antarctic Earth Science, Goa (A SCAR symposium), provides new data from locales spread over the entire Himalaya region and from Tibet. It provides a glimpse of the late Quaternary cryosphere, as well as a discussion in the last section on sustainability in the context of geohazard mitigations as well as the hydrological budget.