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Impact of global warming on Siachen glacier

Siachen glacier is deemed to be the world’s highest and the strenuous battlefield. Located in the eastern lap of Himalayan mountains in Karakoram range, it is the second largest glacier in the non-polar areas of the world, which is being increasingly affected by global warming. An increase in the temperature due to continuous global warming is gradually having an adverse impact on it, which is exacerbating the precarious situation soldiers face from unfavourable weather conditions. An increase in the global warming is melting the snow at an accelerating rate, resulting in dangerous avalanches.

Recently, one of the deadliest avalanches claimed lives of more than ten soldiers deployed at Sonam post situated at about 19,600 feet nearby Pakistan Line of Control in Hindukush Himalayas region. Experts have revealed that this snow avalanche was triggered due to a rise in the temperature. The commandment of Siachen battle school explained with regard to this incident that the temperature in the adjacent areas of Sonam post had been increasing 15-20 days before the incident. Such avalanches are becoming increasingly unpredictable owing to an accelerating impact of global warming. These are maiming and killing the soldiers more than active fighting. In 2012, a massive avalanche claimed lives of 130 Pakistani soldiers in lower Siachen.

The research studies have revealed the impact of global warming on the Siachen glacier that the mouth of it has been receded backwards by 800 metres in last one decade. A report released in 2015 by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has indicated that an increasing frequency of glacier retreats leading to snow avalanches is the worst outcome of global warming witnessed in the Himalayan region, which also covers Siachen glacier. Also, a researcher in the Snow and Avalanche Studies Establishment of India’s defence ministry had explained that the frequency of avalanches had been going up steadily since 1984 and that the maximum and minimum winter temperatures on the glacier had been rising upwards steadily.

The impact of the global warming on Siachen glacier is further confirmed by the fact that rain had been a rare phenomenon in the past few decades but at present light drizzling is frequently witnessed. This has resulted in the plantation and greenery on even at 15,000 feet height whereas previously it was not even possible at 12,000 feet height.

Such visible impact of global warming especially the glacier retreat is attributed to the fact that there is an increase in the pollution owing to an increased deployment of army in the region. The construction of Army posts and camps, dumping of non-biodegradable waste material like ammunition shells, plastic waste and the consistent usage of arms and ammunition has adversely affected the ecosystem of the Siachen glacier.

The aforementioned environmental hazards created by the Siachen glacier are a direct outcome of global warming. This calls for the development of a stringent workable mechanism directed at environment cleaning to clear up the mess created due to the 25 years of military occupation of the area. Both Pakistan and India should talk and develop an effective strategy to manage the hazardous impacts of global warming on Siachen glacier. India and Pakistan need to allocate adequate resources and make a timetable for immediately cleaning the Siachen region. The active involvement of the youth and the environmental pressure groups should be highly encouraged to help in the issue.

Javaid, Aiyza. Impact of global warming on Siachen glacier. Daily Times, March 29, 2017.

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