Himalayan glaciers retreated by 16 % in nearly 5 decades: ISRO

Himalayan glaciers retreated by 16 % in nearly 5 decades: ISRO Bangalore: Himalayan glaciers retreated by 16 per cent in the last nearly five decades due to climate change, investigations by India's scientists in selected basins in four states has revealed.

The retreat of Himalayan glaciers and loss in a real extent were monitored in selected basins in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal and Sikkim, under a programme on space-based global climate change observation by Indian Space Research Organisation.

"Investigations on glacial retreat were estimated for 1,317 glaciers in 10 sub-basins from 1962. This has shown an overall reduction in glacial area from 5,866 sq km to 4,921 sq km since 1962, showing an overall de-glaciation of 16 per cent", says the latest annual report of India's space department.

Snow cover monitoring of all basin (except Tawang, Dibang and Subansiri basins) has been completed, it said.

Atlases for three years are ready and one for the fourth year is being prepared. Modeling response of Himalayan cryosphere to climate change has been initiated, ISRO added.

Meanwhile, a study on the impact of temperature and carbon dioxide (CO2) rise on the productivity of the four major cereal food crops -- wheat, rice, maize and pearl millet -- revealed that yield of all of them showed reduction with increasing temperature.

Assessment after taking field data showed that wheat was the most sensitive crop and maize the least sensitive to temperature rise among the four, ISRO pointed out.

Another study for climate change impact on hydrology was carried out using "Curve Number" approach to study the change in run off pattern in India at basin level.

"Analysis shows there will be significant increase of run off in the month of June in most of the major river basins", the 2009-10 report of the ISRO said.

ISRO has also observed a strong correlation between agriculture vegetation (mainly rice areas) and methane (CH4) concentration.

The detailed inventory of methane emissions from Indian livestock indicated that Indian livestock is a major source of CH4 emission from the agriculture sector as compared to N2O (nitrous oxide) emissions, it said.