National Symposium on Himalayan Glaciers and Snow Cover

A National Symposium on Himalayan glaciers and snow cover was hosted by Himalayan Glacier Project, School of Environmental Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University on March 3- 4, 1997. The two days symposium has brought together about twenty five experts from all over the country. Scientists from Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment, Manali; National Institute of Hydrology, Roorkee; Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, Dehradun; Central Water Commission, New Delhi; Center for Medium Range Weather Forcasting (IMD), New Delhi; Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad; Jammu University, Jammu; Centre for Atmospheric Sciences (IIT), Delhi; Delhi University, Delhi; G.B. Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development , Almora and Non-governmental Organisations working in the Himalayan region were participated.

The symposium was inaugurated by Shri. T.K.A. Nair, Secretary Ministry of Environment and Forest, Government of India. Who stressed the growing importance of glacier studies and stated that the G.B. Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development will also take part in the on-going glacier research. He expressed concern at deteriorating environment of Gangotri region and offered help for study programmes in the Gangotri region.

Shri. C.P. Vohra, former Director General, Geological Survey of India in his key note address said that glaciers and snow cover control the Indian weather. The snow line movement up or down induces stress in Himalayan fauna and causes its evolutionary trend. It also directly controls the extent of forest cover and the tree line. He said the glacier studies can refine prediction of water discharges both for managing water reservoirs - where even a five percent increase in efficiency will lead to economic benefits and enhanced production worth billion of rupees, and designing projects with correct capacities leading to economic construction costs factor benefits. For projects now being undertaken nearer the glaciers and snow lines it should be made obligatory to have glacier and snow hydrology data and study of suspended sediment characteristics.

The symposium was divided into three technical sessions :

Technical Session one was on Mass Balance and climate and was chaired by Padmashree Shri. C.P Vohra, Former Director General, Geological survey of India in which six papers were presented. Dr. M.N. Kaul from Jammu University presented two papers on the mass balance studies carried out on Naradu glacier, Himachal Pradesh. The papers presented by Prof. V.N Nijampurkar from the Physical Research Laboratory were on the isotopic studies carried out on Dokriani glacier, Ganga basin, Garhwal Himalaya during last five years. Paper on climate studies on western Himalaya is presented by Shri. A.P Dimri and another paper on medium range prediction of snow fall over Himalayan region by Global Circulation Model by Shri. Rathore of IMD was very interesting and attracted the attention of the participants.

Technical Session two was on Snow and Glacier Hydrology and was chaired by Brig. S.S. Sharma, Director, Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment (SASE), Manali. Total seven papers were presented in this session. Dr. Pratap Singh, National Institute of Hydrology, Roorkee gave presentation on the current status of glacier hydrology studies in the country. He presented 1995 and 1996 ablation period hydrographs from Dokriani glacier. Dr. Hasnain and Renoj Thayyen=s paper on the control of monsoonal precipitation in the Himalayan meltwaters was quite interesting as for the first time various components of the hydrographs in the Himalaya are separated. The study clearly illustrated the contribution of snow and ice-melt and monsoonal rain in the total hydrographs of proglacial streams in the Himalaya. The actual data used for the analysis was from Dokriani glacier, Garhwal Himalaya collected in the ablation period of 1994. Dr. R.B Singh from Delhi University presented a paper detailing the use of Geoinformatics in glacier and hydrological monitoring. Dr. J.T Gergan from Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, Dehradun gave an interesting presentation on the expedition results on the Dokriani glacier, Garhwal Himalaya. He briefed the participants on various aspects of glaciological studies carried out by the expedition during the last five years.

The third session was on water quality and sediment transfer processes and was chaired by Dr. Jagdish Bahadur, Vigyan Prasar, New Delhi. Total eight papers were presented in this session. The paper by Dr. Sarin presented by Nijampurkar, Physical Research laboratory was on Glacio-chemical studies. The paper put emphasis on the need to study the trace elements in the snow and ice samples in order to identify the various pollutants through the atmosphere. Presentation from JNU on the dissolved load characteristics in the Dokriani glacier meltwaters was very exhaustive. The Chemical signatures in the meltwaters was interpreted by the variations in the discharges, both on the diurnal and seasonal time scales. The sulphate is presenting large quantity both in the delayed and quick flow periods. Therefore it can not be used as marker for separating the hydrographs components. Another paper by the JNU Group was on the suspended sediment - discharge variations in the Dokriani glacier meltwaters. The data analysis was appreciated by the participants and attracted lot of attention. Papers on the hydrochemical studies on proglacial streams in the Garhwal Himalaya were very interesting. Paper on Ecological implications of land use in the Alpine region by the scientist from the G.B Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development was praised by the participants.

The symposium provided an opportunity for glaciologists to present their research findings of last eight years, after the last National meet in glaciology in 1989. At the concluding session of two days symposium following recommendations were made and passed as resolutions.

    1. Glacier research station concept be adopted. Selected representative glacier basins be provided with research facilities which should include besides adequate facilities,

      a) Automatic meltwater discharge monitoring station with continuous recording provision for complete ablation period.

      b) Automatic weather recording station for round the year monitoring of weather parameters. This will facilitate multi- disciplinary, interactive research. The results can thus be used for entire range of basins within the climatic zone of the representative glacier basin.

    2. A common data - base can be created. The agencies and organisations involved in the glacier research in India are spread over many ministries and access to each others data is a problem. A common data base will facilitate enhanced research progress.

    3. Glacier inventory on UNESCO format be published immediately. This inventory is needed by glaciologists, water resources managers, enviornmentalists and other interested in glacial resources. Geological survey of India had completed the work but publication is held up for some clearence from governmental agencies like Survey of India and Ministry of Defence for over four years.

    4. Establishing teaching and research departments in Universities. There is no university teaching glaciology in India today. To begin with Jawaharlal Nehru University and Jammu University may start the departments, for they have been involved in glacier research. Other universities may join subsequently in the programme. As glaciology covers vast gamut of disciplines, the universities could select the syllabus and focus suited to their expertise.

    5. Ice core drilling and Laboratory studies of ice core be accorded priority for development. This very important aspect of information generation for past climate variation with excellent time resolution is not available in the country. Dating capability is non- existent and the laboratory facilities for meltwater studies exist at present. This facility will provide a great thrust to glaciology research in India.

    6. Glacier snout monitoring be taken up as regular programme. Variations in glaciers is a source of knowledge with wide and varied uses. About one hundred glaciers be brought under this programme in the first phase. Even small countries like Switzerland and Nepal have more than 100 glaciers under annual monitoring.

Shri. Suderlal Bahuguna, noted environmentalist and activist joined the concluding session. He said the Ganga discharges decreasing and is cause for concern. He there for supports programmes on detailed scientific studies on glaciers.

The delegates to the National symposium unanimously decided to set up a A Society of Indian Glaciologists' to provide themselves with an appropriate forum for exchanges and to promote the growth of science of glaciology. It was unanimously decided to have Shri. C.P Vohra, Padmashree, as the president and Dr. Syed Iqbal Hasnain as the Secretary General of the Society. The society will have an annual symposium and bring out an yearly publication. The society will also develop linkages with the International Glaciological Society, London.

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