Glacier Retreat in Himalayas

  • 11 Mar 2023

On March 7th, 2023 scientists from the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WIHG) have published a report on the impact of debris cover on the loss of ice mass and terminus recession of glaciers in the Himalayas.

  • The report suggests that the thickness of supraglacial debris significantly affects the rate of ice mass loss in glaciers, and the presence of a thick debris cover can slow down the process of glacier retreat, as seen in the Pensilungpa Glacier with a thick debris cover.(Note: Supraglacial debris is the rock and sediment that accumulates on top of glaciers due to weathering and erosion processes).
  • On the other hand, glaciers with a thin debris cover are more vulnerable to surface lowering and mass loss, which can accelerate the rate of glacier retreat.
  • Debris cover impacts glacier dynamics and mass balance.
  • ‘Himalayan glaciers' retreat rates vary due to topography and climate.
  • Supraglacial debris thickness affects ice mass loss due to ablation.