Nainital: Uttarakhand’s forest fire could be devastating and may result in melting of glaciers, which are the lifeline for chief rivers flowing through Northern Indian plains.
The experts from ARIES (Aryabhatta Research Institute for Observational Sciences), Nainital and GBPIHED (Govind Ballabh Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development, Almora have reported that black carbon ash and smog is covering these glaciers and hence will result in melting of glacier ice.
A senior scientist from the atmospheric department in ARIES, Manish Kumar told TOI, “The black carbon is the result of incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, biomass, and biofuels. It is also a good absorbent of light and thus increases the heat. This is the reason why glaciers will melt faster.”
The experts also say that forest fires have resulted in the rise of 0.2 degrees Celsius temperature in Northern India. This will be having a negative effect on the monsoons. Kirit Kumar, a scientist from GBPIHED, Almora said, “The black carbon floats for long in the air and gets mixed with clouds. Hence, this interferes with the normal cycle of monsoons. Fe other experts also claimed that the interaction of clouds with black carbon may also have varied effects.
According to Manish Kumar from ARIES, the glaciers that are at risk are those situated at lower altitudes like Milam, Newla, Gangotri, Cheepa, and Sundardunga, which are also a source of a number of rivers flowing through Northern India. An expert team of scientists from GBPIHED will soon be taking a scientific expedition to these altitudes in order to study the effect on fires on these glaciers.
QWTJ Live correspondent asked Kirit Kumar that why the scientific community is getting more concerned about these forest fires. He said, “In normal situations, the glaciers acts as mirrors and hence reflects most of the heat & light falling on them. This phenomenon is called ‘albedo’. But when the black carbon gets deposited over them, the glaciers start absorbing heat and light. Therefore, this results in a meltdown. It has become a serious concern now.”