Crucial, But Not Systematically Investigated: Rock Glaciers, the Concealed Water Reservoirs of the Himalayas: An Opinion


  • Sheikh Nawaz Ali

    Birbal Sahni institute of Palaeosciences, Lucknow, 226007, India

  • Pratima Pandey

    Indian Institute of Remote Sensing, Dehradun, 248001, India



The current article is an opinion on the sensitivity of high mountain regions which are the most fragile, sensitive and vulnerable to ongoing climate change. Its impacts are especially severe on the high mountain communities owing to their weak socio-economic profile, limited livelihood resources and agricultural land. The melting of glaciers and changes in the snow cover under the climate change scenario is leading to the scarcity of freshwater supplies, affecting both local and downstream communities. Changes in the precipitation patterns have been suggested to cause droughts, impact restricted agriculture, and limit the availability of water for domestic use. Additionally, the high mountain areas contain distinct flora and fauna, and climate change is not just altering them, but also has resulted in biodiversity loss as species are unable to adapt to the changing climate. Because of its higher altitudes and semi-arid to arid climate, the consequences of climate change are more evident in the higher Himalayas. Climate change is affecting the availability of key resources, such as freshwater and agriculture and pasture lands, resulting in food and water insecurity and their reliance on imports from other regions. As a result, high mountain communities in the Himalayas are progressively shifting to higher glacier valleys in search of suitable cultivable land with adequate irrigation. People are engaging in agro-pastoral activities around thermokarst lakes (Oasis) atop rock glaciers as part of this endeavour. Such actions underscore the crucial role of rock glaciers in dealing with and adjusting to the consequences of climate change. Despite its relevance, rock glacier research in the Himalayan region is still in its infancy. The purpose of this work is to emphasise the significance of these major climate-resilient water resources, as well as the methodology that must be adopted for their systematic and compressive investigations.


Climate change, Rock glaciers, Evolving agricultural practices, Systematic study, Higher Himalayas


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How to Cite

Ali, S. N., & Pandey, P. (2023). Crucial, But Not Systematically Investigated: Rock Glaciers, the Concealed Water Reservoirs of the Himalayas: An Opinion. Journal of Atmospheric Science Research, 6(2), 33–41.





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