Indian engineer ‘builds’ new glaciers to halt global warming

LONDON – A retired Indian engineer has claimed to have “built” 12 new glaciers, in an effort to stop global warming melting away the Himalayan glaciers.

According to a report in the Telegraph, Chewang Norphel, 76, has said that he “built” 12 new glaciers already and is racing to create five more before he dies.

By then, he hopes he will have trained enough new “icemen” to continue his work and save the world’s “third icecap” from being transformed into rivers.

The great Himalayan glaciers, including Kashmir’s Siachen glacier, feed the region’s most important rivers, which irrigate farm land in Tibet, Nepal, Bangladesh and throughout the Indian sub-continent.

The apparent acceleration in glacial melting has been blamed for the increase in floods which have destroyed homes and crops.

Chewang Norphel, the “Iceman of Ladakh”, however believes he has an answer.

By diverting meltwater through a network of pipes into artificial lakes in the shaded side of mountain valleys, he says he has created new glaciers.

A dam or embankment is built to keep in the water, which freezes at night and remains frozen in the absence of direct sunlight.

The water remains frozen until March, when the start of summer melts the new glacier and releases the water into the rivers below.

So far, Norphel’s glaciers have been able to each store up to one million cubic feet of ice, which in turn can irrigate 200 hectares of farm land.

For farmers, that can make the difference between crop failure and a bumper crop of more than 1,000 tons of wheat.

Norphel’s work has now been recognized by the Indian government, which has given him 16,000 pounds to build five new glaciers.

“I’m planning to train villagers with instruction CDs that I have made, so that I can pass on the knowledge before I die,” he said. (ANI)

From Taragana

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Siachen glacier – Global Warming

Bangalore: Running against a stream of mounting evidence that Himalayan glaciers, like others elsewhere in the world, are melting due to global warming, a report in the 10 August issue of Current Science journal has said that the Siachen glacier has not been affected by the rise in global temperatures.

Annual weather variations and not global warming the root cause for Siachen meltdown, say experts

Annual weather variations and not global warming the root cause for Siachen meltdown, say experts

Based on field studies in the summer of 2008, authors M.N. Koul and R.K. Ganjoo of the Regional Centre for Field Operations and Research on Himalayan glaciology at the University of Jammu, said: “Overwhelming field geo-morphological evidences suggest poor response of the Siachen glacier to global warming.”

It’s annual weather variations and not global warming that are causing the melting of the Siachen glacier in north-western Himalayas, they said.

According to this study, the snout, or the lowest end of the glacier, has retreated by about 8-10m since 1995, amounting to an average retreat of 0.6m a year. On the east side, the Siachen glacier shows fast withdrawal of the snout, which is essentially due to ice calving—the sudden release and breaking away of a mass of ice from a glacier—and is true for almost all major glaciers in the Himalayas and happens irrespective of global warming. On the west, the glacier has reduced due to the melting water coming from a retreated tributary glacier.

“The Siachen glacier shows hardly any retreat in its middle part and thus defies the hype,” the authors wrote. Their claim is in response to a study published earlier this year by researchers of the Kumaun University in Nainital, Uttarakhand, which said that there is geological evidence to show that the Siachen glacier has retreated by almost half in the past few decades due to global warming.

Seasoned glaciologists, however, don’t concur with the latest findings.

“Ganjoo’s observation is suspect as another study in the north-western Himalayas by some Defence Research and Development Organization scientists have shown that the temperature is rising,” said D.P. Dobhal, a glaciologist at the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology in Dehradun, who studies two Himalayan glaciers, including the Dokrianai glacier.

Dobhal doubted the findings of this study as he thinks Ganjoo hasn’t “studied the region long enough” and one seasonal field study is not sufficient to make “such overarching claims”. “You need long-term data to come to any conclusion,” he said.

Another glaciologist, Sayed Iqbal Hasnain at The Energy and Research Institute in New Delhi, who has set up a weather station in Kashmir to study the Kolahoi glacier, rubbished Ganjoo’s study because it lacks “scientific data”.

“The snout of a glacier is not the right metric to study the change. The mass of the glacier, which changes due to the (ice) accumulation, needs to be studied, ideally via satellite and optical sensors,” he said.

India has never undertaken any systematic study of any glacier, hence, has no benchmark glacier till date for long-term studies, said Hasnain.

But under environment minister Jairam Ramesh, a white paper on the Himalayan glaciers has been prepared, which Hasnain is reviewing.

seema.s@livemint.com

By Seema Singh from LIVE MINT