Glacier retreat, permafrost thaw are projected to decrease the stability of mountain slopes, say reports.
A deluge that resulted from a glacial melt on Nanda Devi flooded the Rishiganga river in Uttarakhand and washed away at least two hydroelectric power projects — the13.2 MW Rishiganga hydroelectric power project and the Tapovan project on the Dhauliganga river, a tributary of the Alakananda.
There were also concerns that the excess water would further travel downstream to the river Alaknanda and threaten villages as well as hydro projects on the river.
However the India Meteorological Department has said that no rains are forecast. Officials of the Central Water Commission meanwhile said the flooding from the glacial burst has been contained.
Environmental experts have attributed the glacial melt to global warming. Glacier retreat and permafrost thaw are projected to decrease the stability of mountain slopes and increase the number and area of glacier lakes, according to the latest assessment reports of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
There is also high confidence that the number and area of glacier lakes will continue to increase in most regions in the coming decades, and new lakes will develop closer to steep and potentially unstable mountain walls where lake outbursts can be more easily triggered.
Farooque Azam, Assistant Professor, Glaciology and Hydrology division, IIT Indore, said such a glacial burst was an “extremely rare event”.
Satellite and Google Earth images do not show a glacial lake near the region, but there’s a possibility that there may be a water pocket in the region. Water pockets are lakes inside the glaciers, which may have erupted leading to this event. We need further analysis, weather reports and data to confirm if this indeed was the case,” he said.
Climate change has driven erratic weather patterns like increased snowfall and rainfall, warmer winters has led to the melting of a lot of snow. The thermal profile of ice, say experts, was increasing. Earlier the temperature of ice ranged from -6 to -20 degree C, it is now -2 making it more susceptible to melting.
About Nanda Devi Peak
A majestic peak nestled in the quaint hill station of Auli, Nanda Devi is renowned as the Goddess of Himalayas. Counted among the many popular UNESCO sites, it is the second tallest peak in India flaunting the surreal backdrops of Garhwal. It stands at an altitude of 7817 meters above the sea level and lures the visitors with its awe-inspiring views.
The peak is surrounded by Nanda Devi National Park where one can bask in nature’s glory and catch the bewitching sight of exotic flora and fauna. Nanda Devi mountain range has two peaks including Western and Eastern peaks. While the eastern peak is named after Goddess Nanda, the western peak is popularly known as Sunanda Peak.
Apart from its natural splendour, the place has also gained massive popularity for its religious significance. Nandadevi is hailed as the Goddess of Uttarakhand and abode of Lord Shiva, which is why it is frequented by a large number of devotees.
This Himalayan beauty is equally popular among adventure enthusiasts and travel buffs for its enthralling trekking routes and serene villages which provide the much-needed relaxation after a hectic day of sightseeing. The 55 Km trek to Nanda Devi flags off from the beautiful town of Lata, takes you through Dharansi Pass, Debrugheta, and Hitoli, and ends at Joshimath.
During the trek, you will get an opportunity to interact with the natives of Himalayas and learn about their lifestyle and culture. You will also get to see the confluence of sacred rivers Nandaprayag, Rudraprayag, and Devprayag.
Nestled at an altitude of 5000 meters above the sea level, Roopkund is famous for its Roopkund lake. This glacier lake is known to have a lot of mysteries attached to it. It is believed that when Roopkund Lake melts, one can see a large number of skeletons floating on its surface. Apart from being a mysterious spot, it is also a trekkers paradise.
It is situated in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand and is surrounded by Goriganga Valley in the east and Rishiganga Valley in the west.