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Sikkim glaciers melting at higher rate: Study

NEW DELHI:  Glaciers in Sikkim are melting at a higher magnitude as compared to other Himalayan regions and a major shift in glacier behaviour has occurred around 2000, said a study by scientists from the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WIHG). 

The study published in Science of the Total Environment assessed the response of 23 glaciers of Sikkim to climate change for the period of 1991-2015 and revealed that glaciers in Sikkim have retreated and deglaciated significantly from 1991 to 2015.

Small-sized glaciers in Sikkim are retreating while larger glaciers are thinning due to climate change. WIGH is an autonomous research institute for the study of Geology of the Himalaya under the Department of Science and Technology. Compared to other Himalayan regions, the magnitude of dimensional changes and debris growth are higher in the Sikkim.

Contrary to the western and central Himalaya, where glaciers are reported to have slowed down in recent decades, the Sikkim glaciers have shown negligible deceleration after 2000. Summer temperature rise has been prime driver of glacier changes.This study, for the first time, studied multiple glacier parameters, namely length, area, debris cover, snowline altitude (SLA), glacial lakes, velocity, and downwasting, and explored interlinkage among them to present a clear picture about status and behavior of glaciers in the Sikkim.