Mon. Dec 4th, 2023

Assessment of Lahaul-Spiti (western Himalaya, India) Glaciers

Assessment of Lahaul-Spiti (western Himalaya, India) Glaciers- An Overview of Mass Balance and Climate
Mandal A, Ramanathan AL‘ and Angchuk T
School of Environmental Sciences, Jawaharial Nehru University, New DeIni- 170067, India
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Available published literatures on glacier mass balance and climate studies i.e. temperature change, precipitation variation etc. are reviewed for whole Lahaul-Spiti region as well as for western Himalaya. Chhota Shigri and Hamta glaciers both lie in the Lahaul-Spiti region and have the longest in-situ datasets till the date ~10 years, surface mass balance data, geodetic, remotely sensed mass balance data are available. We have compiled and compared all the datasets (different methods) and tried to link up the glacier mass balance with the climate of the past few decades.

In the past decade both the glaciers have experienced negative mass balance. However, all the values of mass balance for same years are not corresponding with different methods, but it is clear that the two glaciers are losing mass and behaving like other glaciers with time. Data from Indian Meteorological Department shows a significant increase of average temperature for the entire country and huge variability in precipitation of Himachal Pradesh. Temperature and precipitation are the two main governing factors of the glacier health. lt has been observed and predicted that glaciers of the Lahual-Spiti region are losing mass due to change in weather pattern, especially increasing air temperature which is the key parameter of glacier change. However, long-term mass balance and climate data are essential for the better understanding and to predict the future status of glaciers in Lahaul-Spiti region.

Keywords: Lahaul—Spiti; Western Himalaya; Glacier mass balance;
Climate; Chhota Shigri glacier


The Hindu-Kush Karakoram Himalaya (HKKH) is the largest mountain region in the world, encompassing parts of or the entire countries of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Nepal, Myanmar, and Pakistan. The HKKH region feeds some of the major rivers in Southeast Asia (such as the Ganges, the Brahmaputra, the Indus, the Yellow River, and the Yang-Tze), which bring water to more than 1.5 billion people [1]. The altitudinal variation and orientation of the Himalayan mountain ranges make their role complex and define the climate of the region. The precipitation characteristic is not uniform along the whole stretch; the western Himalayas get the precipitation during winter due to the westerlies and the eastern Himalayas gets the precipitation mainly during the Indian summer monsoonal months [2].

This complex topography, climate and high altitude area makes it the best place to formation of mountain (valley) glaciers [3]. There are 9575 glaciers in the Indian Himalaya covering an area of 37,466 kml [4,5]. Assessing glacier evolution over these large and remote mountain ranges is challenging, but nevertheless required to characterize the impacts of climate change in the region [6,7], to assess glacial contribution to the regional water resources [8] and global sea level rise [9]. Recent data
shows that the past ~20 years experienced a sea level rise at the rate of 3.3 i 0.4 mm year” [10].

The Earth’s ice cover is melting almost everywhere and also at higher rates. Glaciers are the symbol of an inviolate environment, and are the key element in the water cycle, make a significant contribution to the current rate of sea-level rise and are visually and quantitatively amongst the most reliable indicators ofclimate change [11]. The health of the glacier at smaller level depends upon local climate, topography, geometry, slope, aspect etc. The change in mass is a key value in glaciology. The best measure of glacier health is mass balance, which can be directly linked to climate and compared to other regions [12].

Over the last few years, a major eflort was undertaken to estimate the global mass balance of mountain glaciers and their contribution to sea level rise [13]. Measuring on going glacier wastage is a first step toward the prediction of future water resources in this area and has, thus, important social and economic impacts [14].

Indian Himalayan glaciers are at the retreating phase [7,15]; recent studies have found negative mass balances over Himalayan glaciers [7,15-17]. In the Indian side of Himalaya very less glacier has
been studied. One of the well-studied regions is Lahaul-Spiti region of Himachal Pradesh in India and this region is one of the largest mountain glacier concentrations. Glaciological mass balance [18,19], geodetic mass balance [20], remotely sensed mass balance [17,20], area and length change [3] studies are available for Chhota Shigri and Hamta glacier which lies in the Lahaul-Spiti region. However, glacier mass
balance changes are directly linked to the climate variability over the region, which is to some extent prominent in the Himalaya especially in the western Himalayan side [6,21-23]. According to the IPCC Fifth
Assessments reports global combined land and ocean temperature data, there is an increase of about 089°C (0.69-1.08) over the period 1901~2012 and about 0.72°C (0.49-0.89) over the period 1951-2012

Obviously this could have impact on Himalayan region also but to know the direction and magnitude has become an essential component for the people and the scientific community. Several researchers have
made attempts to study the climate regime of the Himalaya and it has now become necessary to know the climate behaviour over the Himalaya especially in context with the glacier behaviour which is the
largest source of freshwater supply in the Himalayan hill slop populated regions. Hence this review is proposed to study the effects of changing climate pattern in relation to glacier change particularly in the Lahaul-

“Corresponding author: Ramanathan AL, School of Environmental Science5,
Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi- 110067. India. Tel: +91-11-2874267;
E-mail: alrinu@gmail com
Received March 31, 2014; Accepted May O1, 2014; Published May 05, 2014
Citation: Mandal A, Ramanathan AL, Angchuk T (2014) Assessment of Lahaul»
Spiti (western Himalaya. India) G|aciers- An Overview of Mass Balance and
Climate. J Earth Sci Climat Change S11:0O3. d0i:l0,4i72/2’l57—7617,Si1—OO3
Copyright: © 2014 MandalA, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under
the terms ofthe Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted
use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original authorand
source are credited.
J Earth Sci Climat Change Climatology ii. Sedimentology ISSN:2157-7617 JESCC, an open access journal

Citation: Manda|A, Ramanathan AL, AngchukT (2014)Assessment of Lahaul-Spiti (western Himalaya, India) GIaciers- An Overview of Mass Balance
and Climate. J Earth Sci Climat Change S11:003.doi:10.4172/2157~7617.Si1-O03
Page 2 of 9

Figure 1: Location and map of the Chhota Shigri and Hamta glacier (red square), Himachal Pradesh. Manali is the nearest town of these glaciers shown (blue circle).
Shimla, Srinagar and Leh (green triangle) are the IMD stations [6], which has ~ 100 records. The map coordinates are in degree minute second format with WGS84
reference system. Light green patches are representing the glacier outlines of the whole region (Randolf Glacier Inventory 3.2).
Spiti region. To understand the present and past condition over the
region, we have used all published datasets from various literatures.
According to their observation and findings, we have attempted to link
the climate variability to glacier change. This study was framed keeping
all these aspects in mind, knowledge gaps and with the intention to
update the existing information of a very less studied region.
The paper is organized as follows: in introduction part we described
about the Himalaya in context to glacier and climate change studies.
After that we discussed the study area details along with the data
available for input. Then we have addressed issues of all the available
datasets for both the glaciers as well as of Lahaul-Spiti region in detail.
Study Region
The complex topography, roughness of the Himalayan mountainous
regions makes the region data scare. The circulation systems over the
Himalaya is also very much complex to understand. That’s why the
Himalaya attracts more scientists to study and know how these complex
processes are governing. In this work Chhota Shigri and Hamta glaciers
of Lahaul-Spiti region on western Himalaya are the main focus of the
study in relation to the past and present climate behavior. Chhota Shigri
(32.28° N, 77.58″ E) and Hamta (32.25° N, 77.37” E) glacier (Figure 1)
both lies on the Chandra—Bhaga River basin on the northern slopes of
the Pir Panjal range in the Lahaul and Spiti (Figure 1) valley of Himachal
Pradesh, in the western Himalaya. Both the glaciers are highly studied
glacier over the Indian Himalaya till the date.
Chhota Shigri is a valley-type glacier oriented roughly northesouth
in its ablation area, and has a variety of orientations in the accumulation
area. It is included in the upper basin of the Chandra River, contributing
to the Chenab River, one of the tributaries of the Indus river basin
[I8]. This glacier is located in the monsoonearid transition zone and
is influenced by two atmospheric circulation systems: the Indian
summer monsoon during summer (Iuly-September) and the Northern
Hemisphere mid-latitude westerlies during winter (Ianuary-April)
[25,26]. Its snout is well defined, lying in a narrow valley and producing
a single proglacial stream. The lower ablation area (<4400 m a.s.l.)
is covered by debris representing 3.4% of the total surface area [20].
The debris layer is highly heterogeneous, from silts measuring a few
millimeters to big boulders sometimes exceeding several meters. The
Equilibrium Line Altitude (ELA) for a zero net balance is close to 4900
ma.s.l. [18].
Hamta glacier is about 5.5 km long, and has an area of 3 km’. It
flows to the north spanning an elevation range of 4650-4100 m. It has
a high and wide headwall that rises steeply more than a kilometer from
the top of the glacier. 73% of the total glacier surface area is under a
debris mantle [27]. The reported values of recent Accumulation Area
Ratio (AAR) for this glacier are 0.1 [19] and 0.15 1 0.06 [28-32].
Data Sets
Various published datasets such as glacier surface mass balance,
length change, ice velocity etc. have been used to understand the
relation of these glaciers with changing pattern of climate.
Chhota Shigri glacier
In 2002, a long-term monitoring program was initiated on Chhota
Shigri glacier with respect to mass balance, ice velocity, hydrology etc
by joint collaboration of INU, India and IRD, France [18,28]. In the
study they have characterized the glacier dynamic behavior and state
e.g., annual surface mass balance, annual surface velocity, mass balance
gradient etc. [18]. Till date most of the hydrological years are found to
be negative. They have also analyzed mass balance gradient with respect
to altitudinal change and they have established that this glacier is similar
to mid—latitude glaciers, with an ablation season limited to summer
months and a mean vertical gradient of mass balance in the ablation
zone (debris-free part) of0.7 m w.e. (I00 m) ‘, similar to those reported
in the Alps. One of the major finding of the study was observation of
a differential mass balance pattern over glacier surface, thick cover of
debris resist melting. Mass balance is strongly dependent on debris
cover (thick debris significantly protects the lowest part of the glacier
from melting), on exposure and on the shading effect of surrounding
steep slopes. This suggests that melting is likely to be predominantly
J Earth Sci Climat Change Climatology it Sedimentology ISSN:2157-7617 JESCC. an open access journal

Citation: Manda|A, Ramanathan AL, AngchukT (2014)Assessment of Lah
auI—Spiti (western Himalaya, India) GIaciers- An Oven/iew of Mass Balance
and Climate. J Earth Sci Climat Change S11:OO3. d0i:1O/1172/2157-7617.S11—OO3
Page 3 oi 9
ance [m W.e year‘]
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— Hamta
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1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 2010
Figure 2: Annual glacier wide mass balance of Chhota Shigri (red) between 2003 to 2011 using glaciological method [18,20,28,29], Hamta glacier (blue) between
2001 to 2009 [19] and modeled mass balance since 1969 (light green) of Chhota Shigri glacier using degree-day modeling [15].
bu. 1L
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hhota Shigri
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Figure 3: a)Terminus variation of Chhota Shigri glacier measured since 1980 using remotely sensed data [3] and b)C|oser view of elevation changes (meters) be»
tween February, 2000 to October, 2011 of Chhota Shigri, Hamta and surrounding glaciers [20].
driven by incoming solar radiation which is irregularly absorbed by the
glacier according to surface albedo (snow or ice, presence of debris or
not) [18] and also by surface temperature of ice.
Studies followed by, [20,29] further investigated the dynamic
behavior of this glacier in detail. Annual mass balance of Chhota
Shigri glacier was negative -0.58 1 0.40 m w.e.a” during 2003 to 2011
revealing strong unsteady-state conditions over this period. Available
glaciological mass balance series of this glacier has been shown in
the Figure 2. To find out the thickness of the glacier ice, 5 transverses
cross sections along the flow were obtained using Ground Penetrating
Radar (GPR). The cross sections obtained from GPR measurements
reveal a valley shape with maximum ice thickness greater than 250 m
somewhere towards the middle. The centre-line ice thickness increases
from 124 m at 4400 m a.s.l. to 270 m at 4900 m a.s.l. They assessed and
concluded that the glacier was in steady-state condition during the past
one to two decades preceding 2003/2004 balance year, the glacier-wide
mass balance of this glacier has probably been close to zero (the glacier
was in more or less equilibrium state). They validated this statement
comparing the first observation in 1987/1988 [30] with 2003/2004 ice-
flux and velocity measurements. They found that since 2003 the glacier
ice velocity decreased gradually. On the basis of velocity change they
concluded that the ice fluxes have diminished by 24 » 37% below 4750
m a.s.l. between 2003 and 2010.
Investigation of geodetic mass balance, surface mass balance,
volume change of Chhota Shigri glacier has been carried out between
1988 and 2010 using in-situ geodetic, glaciological and remote
sensing measurements [20]. As their surface mass balance study and
compilation indicates over the whole period l988— 2010, the cumulative
MB of Chhota Shigri glacier was —3.8 i 1.8 m w.e., corresponding to a
J Earth Sci Climat Change Climatology at Sedimentology ISSN:2157-7617 JESCC. an open access journal

Citation: MandalA, Ramanathan AL, AngchukT (2014)Assessment of Lahaul-Spiti (western Himalaya, India) Giaciers- An Oven/iew of Mass Balance
and Climate. J Earth Sci Climat Change S11:003. doi:10.4172/2157-7617.811-003
Page 4 of 9
moderate mass loss rate of -0.17 i 0.08 m w.e. yr”. In fact, the glacier
experienced first a slightly positive or near-zero cumulative MB between
1988 and 1999 followed by a period of ice wastage, confirming the
presumption [29]. This glacier has experienced only a slight mass loss
over the last 22 yrs (-3.8 i 1.8 m.w.e.). Using satellite digital elevation
models (DEM) differencing and field measurements, they found a
negative Mass Balance (MB) between 1999 and 2011 (-4.7 i 1.8 m w.e.).
To understand the past behaviour at the seasonal, annual as well as
decadal levels reconstruction of surface mass balance study was carried
out recently [29]. MB series of Chhota Shigri glacier has been extended
back(reconstructecl) to 1969 by a temperature-index model together
with an accumulation model using daily records of precipitation and
temperature from Bhuntar Observatory (Himachal Pradesh, ~50 km
southwest of Chhota Shigri glacier). Over the study period Chhota
Shigri glacier has experienced a moderate mass wastage at a rate of
-0.30 i 0.36 m w.e. a”. Reconstructed annual mass balance results are
shown in Figure 2. This study also suggests that Winter precipitation and
summer temperature are almost equally important drivers controlling
the MB pattern of Chhota Shigri glacier at decadal scale.
Area, length variation study also done using remotely sensed data
over Chhota Shigri and surrounding glaciers [3]. They found some
interesting results i.e. the glacier has lost an area ofO.47 % during 1980
to 2010 at the rate of7.73 m year-1. Also the glacier experienced a 17 m
upward shift (retreat) of snout (terminus) during 1980 to 2010 (Figure
3a). Sensitivity test of modeled (temperature) based glacier mass
balance was performed on Chhota Shigri glacier [15] The sensitivity of
mass balance to temperature was -0.52 m we a ‘ “C” which corresponds
to the highest [48], investigated the meteorological influences on glacier
mass balance in High Asia using NCEP/NCAR reanalysis data since
Results indicate modeled mass balance since 1969 of Chhota Shigri
glacier, sensitivity to temperature decreases with elevation from -1.21 m
w.e. a” “C”at 4400 m a.s.l. to -0.05 m w.e. a” “C” at 6000 m a.s.l. Ablation
is primarily controlled by air temperature, and, in turn, in the lower part
of the glacier where ablation is predominant, sensitivity of modeled MB
to temperature is enhanced. On the debris-covered part (<4400 m a.s.l.)
of the glacier, the sensitivity was lower than over debris-free areas at
the same elevation. While, mass balance sensitivity to precipitation was
calculated as 0.16 rn w.e. a-1 for a 10% change. Hence relation of glacier
to air temperature and precipitation suggests temperature is playing a
crucial role for melting and governing the annual mass balance.
Hamta glacier
As earlier stated, this glacier is also a well-studied glacier in the
Area calculated from satellite image (sq. km)
i 963
Table 1: Area change oi Hamta glacier using remote sensing technique since
1963 [3].
Indian side of the Himalaya. Geological Survey oflndia (GSI) has been
monitoring the glacier since 2001 [19]. We have collected the data and
compiled it for a holistic study. Compiled datasets are also described
in [20,31]. The data shows that the glacier experienced a significant
negative mass loss over the past decade (Figure 2). The average annual
mass balance of this glacier estimated -1.59 m w.e. year” during 2001
to 2009 [19] using glaciological mass balance method. Area and length
variation study was carried out for Hamta glacier [3]. Results indicate
that, glacier has lost an area of7.57 % during 1980 to 2010, and retreated
at the rate of 16.8m year”. Also glacier has experienced a 92 m upward
shift of snout (terminus). Table 1, represents the total area change since
2110 kmzofthe Lahual-Spiti Himachal Pradesh region is glacierized
area with 13 % debris covered [17]. Being one of the largest glaciated
areas, many researchers had attempted to study glaciers over this region
for their area change, velocity, mass balance, terminus variation etc
A remote sensing based glacier study (thickness and mass) over
the Lahual-Spiti region [33]. Almost all glaciers have shown a clear
thinning at low elevations, even on debris-covered tongues. Between
1999 and 2004, they obtained an overall specific mass balance of -0.7 to
-0.85 m w.e. This rate of ice loss is doubled than the long-term (1977 to
1999) mass balance record for Himalaya.
Mass balance studies over the whole Lahaul-Spiti region between
1999-2011 using remote sensing methods [17] indicates, glaciers of
Lahaul-Spiti region have experienced a general and homogeneous
thinning over their ablation areas (-0.63 1 0.05 m yr”) during 1999 to
2011. They have surveyed mass balance of 8 regions over the Pamir-
Karakoram-Himalaya during 1999-2011, out of those 8 regions;
Lahaul-Spiti has experienced the most negative mass balance, at -0.41 i
0.11 m yr-1 w.e. which is a monsoon-arid transition zone.
Another study [20], in the same region showed the mass balance to
be -0.44 1 0.09 m w.e. yr” for the same period using remote sensing and
geodetic(elevation change) methods. Figure 3b, shows the elevation
changes (meters) between February, 2000 to October, 2011 of Chhota
Shigri, Hamta and surrounding Lahaul-Spiti glaciers. Also depicts that
both glaciers have experienced mass loss with significant rate except
some negligible upper altitudinal areas (accumulation) between the
study periods.
It shows there is a consistent signal of on-going retreat and down
wasting of glacier mass in this region.
Climate Signal
Panel on Climate Change the global mean surface air temperature
increased by 0.74”C while the global mean Sea Surface Temperature
(SST) rose by 0.67”C over the last century [25]. Also latest IPCC report
has stated global combined land and ocean temperature data shows
an increase of about 0.89“C (0.69-1.08) over the period 1901-2012 and
about 0.72°C (0.49-0.89) over the period 1951-2012 [24]. If we consider
the global climate data to any specific regions then the values may be
highly biased especially high topographic regions like Himalaya where
the climate behaviours are totally different from the low land areas.
Unfortunately long term Meteorological data are very sparse
especially in Himalayan region; also the climatic behaviour in this
region is complex. But an attempt has been made [6], to see the trend of
J Earth Sci Climat Change Climatology 1. Sedimentology ISSN:2157-7617 JESCC. an open access journal

Citation: Mandal A, Ramanathan AL, AngchukT (2014)Assessment of Lahaul-Spiti (western Himalaya, India) Glaciers- An Oven/iew of Mass Balance
and Climate. J Earth Sci Climat Change S11:003. doi:10.4172/2157-7617.811-O03
Page S of 9
the available data from western Himalaya; they have analysed the data
from seven stations of Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment, India
(SASE) distributed in Himachal Pradesh and lammu &Kashmir and the
three stations of Indian Meteorological Department, India (IMD) i.e.
Srinagar, Leh and Shimla. The data time series of IMD stations are close
to I00 years long while for SASE observatories the data length varies
from 16 years to 22 years. The Temperature trend shows an abrupt rise
around mid-sixties with acceleration in the last two decades. The gross
rise in mean air temperature in the North West Himalaya in the last two
decades is about 2.2”C.
One of the recent studies indicates no trend in the winter
precipitation but significant decreasing trend in the monsoon
precipitation during 1866 to 2006 over the North West Himalaya.
Analysis of the meteorological data from 18 stations of the high altitude
observatories of SASE located in different ranges of the Western
Himalaya for the period mid-eighties to 2006-07 [23,34]. They found
that the seasonal (November-April) mean, maximum and minimum
temperatures have increased by about 2°C, 2.8°C and 1”C in about
last two decades. Maximum temperature of the Pir Panjal range is
increasing at a greater rate than the minimum temperature. Seasonal
snowfall has decreased by 280 cm on the Pir Panjal over the period
1988-89 t0 2007-08 [35].
Another study [21] about climate change aspects indicate that Pir
Panjal range in Himachal Pradesh, maximum increase of 0.7°C, 1.4″C
and 05°C in mean, maximum and minimum temperature respectively
(on wintertime (December-February) data of 30 years(1975-2006)) . It
was noted that the spring snow cover area has been declining and snow
has been melting faster from winter to spring after mid 1990s over the
over the western Himalayas region based on satellite derived data for
the period 1986-2000 [36].
Recent study over the Himalayan region with especial focus on
Indian Himalaya, results shows that total glacier stored water in the
Indian Himalaya is 3600-4400 Gigaton (Gt). Mapping ofalmost 11,000
out of 40,000 km’ of glaciated area, distributed in all major climatic
zones of the Himalaya, suggests an almost 13% loss in area in the last
4-5 decades. This again confirms that the glaciers in the Himalaya at
retreating phase. In the last four decades loss in glacial ice has been
estimated at 19 i 7 meters. This suggests loss of443 i 136 Gt of glacial
mass out of a total 3600-4400 Gt of glacial stored water in the Indian
Himalaya. This study has also shown that mean loss in glacier mass
in the Indian Himalaya is accelerated from -9 i 4 to -20 i 4 Gt year-1
between the periods 1975-85 and 2000-2010 [37,38].
Preview of last decade weather signal
It has been observed that, mean annual temperature of India were
above the average for the period 2004 to 2012 (Table Z). The year 2009
was ranked among the top five warmest years since the beginning of
instrumental records about 1850, while the decade from 2000 to 2009
has been the warmest on record [37]. 2010 was the warmest year since
I901 for the whole country [39-47]. Climate of high mountainous
region shows both spatial and elevation variability, it require dense
network as compare to other areas to understand the climate behaviour.
However, with the available datasets of IMD stations in Himachal
Pradesh, it has been observed that for a period 2005 to 2012 there was a
huge variability in the rainfall (Table 2). Almost in every season rainfall
is departing from its normal for the whole period.
Representativeness of Chhota Shigri and Hamta Glacier
for Lahaul-Spiti Region
Himalayan glaciers are poorly sampled [33] in consideration to
time and space. Further in this region the climatic series (temperature
and precipitation) are rare and the climate change signal is not clear
[22]. Very less glaciers mass balance data are available in literature from
this region as well as whole Indian Himalayan glaciers. Data scarcity
is due to accessibility and other factors. So, due to limited data and
information of glaciers of this region, we have taken these two glaciers
as base (or representative) glaciers (in terms ofclata).
A regional representativeness characteristic of the Chhota Shigri
glacier has also been discussed [33]. Further representativeness of this
glacier for whole Lahaul-Spiti was established [20], a good agreement
between glaciological mass balance and the regional ICESat-deriverd
cumulative mass balance between fall 2003 and fall 2008 [16].
Debris Role on Annual Mass Balance
As already mentioned, both the glaciers are covered by supra-glacial
debris. In Himalayan region debris covered glacier concentration is
very high. 36% of the total glacier area is covered by debris in Central
Himalaya (South) and 21% in Western Himalaya [32]. It is now well
established that, debris cover plays a very important role on mass
balance. Very thick debris check the melting of ice, because, solar
radiation cannot penetrate a very thick debris layer and insulation effect
dominates and if debris thickness is less than ~2-4 cm it enhances the
melt rate [18,20,29,32]. Previous observations [18] indicate that debris
at lower part of the glacier etficiently protects the glacier from melting.
At 4360 m a.s.l. where two stakes were located on and outside the ~1 to
2 cm thick debris-covered area (thin debris of a few millimetres mixed
with isolated rocks sometimes bigger than a few tens of centimetres),
the measured mass balance was systematically -1.4 to 2 m w.e. more
negative on the debris-free area than over the covered part. Mass
balance is strongly dependent on debris cover depending on nature and
thickness of debris.
Temperature above Winter season rainfall Pre-monsoon season Monsoon season rainfall Post-monsoon season Annual rainfall
average since 1901 depletion (%DEP) rainfall depletion (%DEPl depletion (%DEP)* rainfall depletion (%DEPli_d;epletion (°/=-DEF)’
201 0
20 1 1
0.91 “C
2 -44 -8 -99 >21
-4a -41 -24 -45 -32
-as -11 -as -17 -34.3
-20 -59 -5 -51 -20.8
-51 -46 -34 -as -as
-46 -as 13 -12 -a
-32 -22 -11 -as -22
-9 -51 -1a -62 -25
Table 2: Showing the last decade average temperature anomaly for whole country at annual level and rainfall departure in Himachal Pradesh at seasonal and annual level.
Data source IMD annual climate summaries [39-47].
J Earth Sci Climat Change Climatology 1. Sedimentology ISSN:2157-7617 JESCC. an open access journal

Citation: MandalA, Ramanathan AL, AngchukT (2014)Assessment of Lahaul-Spiti (western Himalaya, India) Glaciers- An Oven/iew of Mass Balance
and Climate. J Earth Sci Climat Change S11:003. doi:10.4172/2i57—7617.Si1—O03
Page 6 of 9
1998 2000 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010 2012
1 _|_l_l_l_l_l_l_l_l_l_l_l_l_l_l_
e [m w.e. y“]
Mass ba anc
_ . _
– /V _
1998 2000 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010 2012
Q—Q—Q Chhota_Hamta_mean
Vincent et a|.(1999-2011)
Gardelle etal.(1999-2011) – – – – – Vincent at HI-(2004-2°11)
— Vincent et a|.(1999-2004) i Berthieret a|.(1999-2004)’
Berthier et al.(1999-2004)’
Figure 4: Showing all the available compiled mass balance data including glaciologioal, geodetic, remote sensing studied by different organizations for the period
1999 to 2011. Scatter plot (red symbol) in the figure representing the mean mass balance tor both (Chhota Shigri and Hamta) the glaciers for same years. Red line
(behind green line) representing the mean geodetic mass balance year-1 during 1999 to 2011 for whole Lahaul-Spiti region, Green Ilne represents mean mass bal-
ance year-1 using remote sensing between same time periods for the same study region. Black dashed line showing the mean values of mass balance during 2004
to 2011. Violet and pink lines are representing the mass balance values between 1999 to 2004 using two different hypothesis (Hypothesis 1 and HypOlheSiS 2) over
the same region. Error ranges are not shown lI’l this figure.
Discussion and Conclusion
Above discussed findings, arguments and information’s about
glaciers and changing pattern of climate strongly supports the
imbalanced health of Lahaul-Spiti glaciers as well as the western
Himalayan glaciers. Most of the study attempted in Lahaul-Spiti
(western Himalaya) till date showed a consistent sign of retreating
phase [17,l8,20,32,33].
In the past decade, almost every year glaciers have experienced
negative mass budget (Figures 2 and 4). However error assessment
of the measurements should be mentioned for better correlations.
Uncertainty assessed mass balance data are available for Chhota Shigri
glacier [20,29]. In case of Hamta glacier, mass balances are negative all
the time and sometimes high, One of the possible reason, may be the
glacier was probably surveyed only in their lower part (which is not
always clearly mentioned in sources), making the glacier-wide mass
balance biased negatively [20]. For this glacier, geodetic mass balance
was of -0.45 1 0.16 m we year” during 1999-2011 [20], whereas the
glaciological mass balance was -1.46 m w.e. year‘ during 2000-2009
In order to get a better comparison of the above reviewed
assessments over Lahual—Spiti glaciers, we have compiled and tried
to give a linkage to the recent available results of mass balances and
weather. Figure 4 showing all the available compiled mass balance data
including glaciological, geodetic, remote sensing studied by difierent
organizations [17-20,2933]. Scatter plot in the Figure 4 represents
the mean mass balance of both Chhota Shigri and Hamta glaciers
for matching years. More or less similar results have observed during
1999 to 2011 (red and green line; Figure 4) [17,20]. Two hypotheses
(Hypothesis 1 and Hypothesis 2 in Figure 4) used to estimate the mass
balance over this region between 1999 to 2004 (pink and violet line;
Figure 4) [33]. Both the results are quite similar (-0.85 and -0.69 m w.e.,
Figure 4). However, all the values of mass balance for same years are not
corresponding to the geodetic or remote sensing method, but it is clear
that the two glaciers are also behaving like other Lahaul-Spiti glaciers
with time. Hence, glaciers of Lahaul-Spiti are losing mass.
Based on the above review it has been confirmed that temperature
of the Himachal Pradesh region is increasing [6,l5,2l,23,35],
simultaneously the precipitation is decreasing [23,34,36]. Consequently,
IMD data for the last decades indicate that temperature also increasing
in entire country and there is huge variability in precipitation in
Himachal Pradesh (Table 2) [39-48]. Temperature and precipitation
are the two main governing factors of the glacier health. Sensitivity
test of modeled (temperature index) based mass balance indicates that
temperature change has afiected prominently on the glacier surface
as compare to precipitation. So here we predicted that glaciers of the
Lahual-Spiti region are losing mass due to change in weather pattern,
J Earth Sci Climat Change Climatology
edimentology ISSN:2157-7617 JESCC. an open access journal

Citation: Mandal A, Ramanathan AL, AngchukT (2014)Assessment of Lahaul-Spiti (western Himalaya, India) Glaciers- An Oven/iew of Mass Balance
and Climate. J Earth Sci Climat Change S11:003. doi:10.4172/2157-7617.811-O03
Page 7 of 9
especially increasing air temperature which forms the key parameter of
glacier change with time.
However, with limited data sets we cannot asses the vivid climate
change and its impact on glacier health. Still the various available
data sets and information have helped us to identify the significant
correlation between the changing weather trends and glacier mass loss,
particularly during the past few decades in the Lahual-Spiti region. So,
it is essential to have long term glaciological mass balance, geodetic
mass balance as well as long-term climate data (from well distributed
climate stations network over the glacierized region) to get the inside
view of past, present and future climate-glacier interaction.
The authors are grateful to all the researchers who have worked and giving
valuable inputs to the scientific community. Authors thank Jawaharlal Nehru
University, New Delhi, India for providing all the facilities, Authors are thankful to all
the lab mates of Lab No-209 & 214 of School of Environmental Sciences, Jawaharlal
Nehru University. Authors are thankful to DST, GOI and our collaborators for their
support and the anonymous reviewer for his valuable comments.
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J Earth Sci Climat Change Climatology E Sedimentology ISSN:2157-7617 JESCC, an open access journal

Citation: Mandal A, Ramanathan AL, AngchukT (2014)Assessment of Lahaul-Spiti (western Himalaya, India) Glaciers- An Oven/iew of Mass Balance
and Climate. J Earth Sci Climat Change S11:003. doi:10.4172/2157—7617.S11—O03
Page 8 of 9
40. IMD (2005) Annual Climate Summary 2005. Issued by Additional Director
General of Meteorology (Research), India Meteorological Department, Shivaji
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42.lMD (2007) Annual Climate Summary 2007. Issued by Additional Director
General of Meteorology (Research), India Meteorological Department, Snivaji
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nagar, India.
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Citation: Mandal A, Rarnanathan AL, Angchuk T (2014)Assessment of Lahaul-
Spiti (western Himalaya, India) Glaciers- An Overview of Mass Balance and
Climate. J Earth Sci Climat Change S11:003. doi:10 4172/21571617 S11—O03
This article was originally published in u special issue, Climatology a
Sedimenlology handled by Editor(s). Dr. Yi Wang, University of Sussex,
United Kingdom
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General of Meteorology (Research), India Meteorological Department, Shivaji
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