Changing Track of Himalayan Glacier

The Hindu

GS 3: Environment and Conservation


  • For the first time, scientists have described the findings in a peer-reviewed Journal of Geosciences, that turn in glacier’s course has been recorded in the Himalayas.


  • Nearly 20,000 years ago, a 5-km-long Himalayan glacier “abruptly” changed course and over time fused into an adjacent glacier in present day Pittoragarh, Uttarakhand. Change in climate along with tectonic movement probably caused this to happen.
  • Based on remote sensing and an old survey map, the study assessed that the glacier had been affected by active fault and climate change.
  • The glacier, which does not have a name and lies in an extremely inaccessible region, was large enough that it formed its own “valley” and the accumulated debris that accompanies the formation of glaciers probably caused it to turn from a north-eastern direction to a south-eastern course.
  • The study adds to evidence of the inherent instability of the Himalayan region, among the youngest mountain ranges in the world due to which the underlying tectonic plates that support it are not stable but are jittery and frequently trigger earthquakes and landslides.
  • The event had “similarities” to the February disaster in Rishiganga valley, Uttarakhand, in which a large mass of rock and debris detached from a glacier and hurtled down the Rishiganga river.
  • 5-km-long unnamed glacier, which covered around 4 sq km in Kuthi Yankti valley (Tributary of Kali River), after changing course moved and ultimately merged with the adjacent glacier named Sumzurkchanki as a result of tectonic forcing during the time between Last Glacial Maxima (19-24,000 years ago) and Holocene (10,000 years ago).
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