Raging Uttarakhand fire affecting glaciers to melt faster; can disrupt lifeline

The raging fire in the forests of Uttarakhand is vastly affecting the glaciers in the region which will have a long-term effect on climate and rivers flowing in the area.

Researchers at Nainital`s Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES) and Govind Ballabh Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development (GBPIHED) have studied the effect of fire on the glaciers and found that it is leading to the melting of glaciers that are lifeline to rivers flowing in the Northern part of India.

“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,” said Manish Kumar, a senior scientist at the atmospherics department in ARIES.

Kirit Kumar said, “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.”

According to officials, the fire has taken lives of at least seven people and has injured over 15 people so far. What’s striking is that over 2,2269 hectares of forest land have been destroyed mostly covering the regions of Pauri, Nainital, Rudraprayag, Tehri and Almora districts.

Three IAF helicopters and nearly 10,000 people are have come to rescue and collectively they have released more than 30k litres of water to stop the raging fire. The active involvement of people is helping a lot as 75 percent of the fire have been extinguished successfully.

Police have arrested four people convicted for the fire in the region.