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Uttarakhand Forest Fires Could Melt Glaciers Faster: Experts

Experts say ‘black carbon’ from the smog and ash is covering the glaciers making them more prone to melting.

Updated
India
1 min read
Forest officials extinguishing the fire in the forests at Kotdwar, Uttarakhand on Monday.(Photo: PTI)

Fires in Uttarakhand could lead to glaciers melting faster which feed many rivers which act as lifelines flowing through the Northern Indian Plains, according to The Times of India.

Experts say ‘black carbon’ from the smog and ash is covering the glaciers, making them more prone to melting.

Black carbon is formed by the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, biofuels and biomass. It absorbs light and increases heat, which is why it can cause glaciers to melt faster.
Manish Kumar, Senior Scientist, Aryabhatta Research Institute for Observational Sciences
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Water in the rivers is also likely to get very polluted from the effects of this black carbon.

These fires have also raised average temperatures across northern India by 0.2 degrees Celsius, which is bound to have a bad effect on monsoons in India.

Black carbon floats in the air for a long time and gets deposited on clouds interfering with the normal cycle of the monsoons.
Kirit Kumar, Govind Ballabh Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development

The glaciers most likely to be affected by this are the ones situated at low altitudes, like Gangotri, Milam, Sundardunga, Newla and Cheepa. To study the effects of this, a team of scientists from Govind Ballabh Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development will soon undertake a trip to these glaciers.

In normal circumstances, glaciers act as mirrors reflecting most of the light and heat. This is known as ‘albedo’. But when black carbon gets deposited on them, it results in their absorbing all the light and heat which eventually results in their meltdown. This is a serious concern.

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