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‘Climate change is changing landscape of Ladakh’


The Hindu, Leh/New Delhi, 29th November,2015


“The snowfall has come down significantly in the last couple of decades and the glacier is melting at a higher rate putting the lives of farmers at risk,” says ‘glacier man’ Chewang Norphel.

 

Even as global nations continue negotiations to arrive at a consensus for a global agreement to tackle climate change ahead of the Conference of Parties (COP21) summit in Paris, nowhere are the effects more visible than the mountainous region of Ladakh in Jammu & Kashmir.

 

“Climate change is changing the landscape of Ladakh. The snowfall has come down significantly in the last couple of decades and the glacier is melting at a higher rate putting the lives of farmers here at risk,” said Chewang Norphel called the glacier man for creating artificial glaciers in Ladakh to tide over the water shortage for irrigation told The Hindu.

 

The excessive glacier melt is resulting in floods putting the lives of 80 per cent of farmers in the region at risk as glaciers are the primary source of water, Mr. Norphel added. This has affected agriculture in Leh and effected crop patters. In fact that was the primary reason Mr. Norphel came up with the idea of artificial glaciers to tide over the water crisis for irrigation.

 

The effects of climate change are also very much evident on the Siachen glacier — the world’s highest battlefield. The snout of Siachen — the starting point of the glacier — at the Base Camp has receded by about a kilometre since 2005. A board stating this at the snout bears testimony to the accelerating pace of human induced climate change. Climate change has also altered weather patterns causing unseasonal rains and increasing the risk of avalanches.

 

However there is no scientific data to indicate the extent of climate change in this region. The Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment (SASE), an institute under the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has recently initiated “Him-Parivarthan”, a project to assess the extent of the glacier melt.

 

Officials at SASE said that under this project four sites have been identified on the glacier based on the data of the last twenty years and will be monitored over the next two years to understand the climate change on the glacier.