Since the beginning of twentieth century, mountain glaciers have generally experienced worldwide retreat and thinning in response to ~0.74°C increase in global mean surface temperature. Consequently, additional fresh water is released from glacier storage that modifies current stream flow regimes. Water resources play a key role in the sustainable development of human activities and for preserving the ecological environment in the Kashmir valley. Glaciers have a substantial influence on the local water cycle by temporarily storing water as snow and ice on many different time-scales. Scientific communities and sectors of water resources management have recently recognized the strong influence of glaciers on catchment runoff quantity and distribution. In this backdrop, an attempt has been made to examine how climatic change influences glacier behaviour and the water quantity from its discharge. A study of the Kolahoi Glacier, Liddar Headwater, Kashmir Himalayas, is presented here. The study was carried out using Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) techniques. The Kolahoi Glacier shows a faster retreat than other Kashmir Himalayan glaciers. The area of the glacier receded from 11.22 km² in 1992 to 9.80 km² in 2010, registering a change of 1.42 km2 in 18 years at a rate of 0.078 km2 per year. As the glacier is receding very fast during the recent time its discharge also shows an increasing trend. The result of this retreat will prove disastrous for the valley in a number of ways like drinking water, agriculture, horticulture, ground water, hydro power capacity of the state, etc. Therefore, efforts need to made to save this precious source of water for the present as well as for future generations.
Key words: Climatic change, remote sensing, Kolahoi Glacier, Liddar, Kashmir Himalayas.
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