ABSTRACT

Thirty-five surface sediment samples from three glacial sites – [Chorabari Glacier (Kedarnath), Hamtah and Chhatru glaciers (Lahaul-Spiti)] – situated in the western Himalaya, India, were palynologically analysed to explore the relationship between the modern pollen assemblages and the extant vegetation. The Chorabari Glacier is located in the Greater Himalaya and influenced by the Southwest Summer Monsoon; whereas the Hamtah and Chhatru glaciers are located in the Trans-Himalaya and affected more by the Western Disturbances (winter precipitation). The area around Chorabari Glacier receives abundant rainfall, while the Hamtah and Chhatru glaciers are in a high-altitude cold desert. Palynological studies have revealed an overwhelming dominance of Pinus pollen in all the samples. Though the sampling sites are 2 to 8 km away from the treeline and characterised by herbaceous ground vegetation, the marked predominance of arboreal pollen (especially Pinus) in the sediments stresses the importance of a proper interpretation of modern pollen data, so as to have an appropriate standard for deciphering the pollen–vegetation relationship in the respective study areas.

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