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Gangotri glacier retreated by 3 km in two centuries

Gangotri glacier is fast retreating, has been revealed in various reports. Though the three-kilometre retreat over a period of two centuries might seem insignificant at first glance, data shows that the rate of retreat has increased sharply since 1971. The rate of retreat is 22 meters per year.


  1. According to scientists at the National Institute of Hydrology, Roorkee, Gangotri glacier is receding average rate of 21 m per year.
  2. According to glaciologist Milap Chand Sharma of Jawaharlal Nehru University, Gangotri glacier has retreated by over 3 kilometers since 1817.
  3. According to scientists from NASA, US Geological Survey (USGS) and Narional Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC), the Gangotri glacier has been constantly receding since measurements began in 1780. Data for 61 years (1936–96) show that the total recession of Gangotri glacier is 1147 m, with the average rate of 19 m per year.

Evidences of retreat:

  1. Length of glacier has decreased by 1147 m in the last 61 years and approximately three-kilometre retreat over a period of two centuries.
  2. Several lakes have emerged in between the glacier
  3. Water discharge in the Bhagirathi has declined

Significance of this retreat:

  1. With 10 Indian States reeling under drought and the country facing a severe water crisis after two weak monsoons, the story of retreating freshwater sources such as the Himalayan glaciers is worrying.
  2. This retreat will further aggravate the pollution level in Ganga
  3. It will have negative impact on the biodiversity of the Ganga basin.

Gangotri Glacier

  • Located in Uttarkashi district, Uttarakhand bordering China.
  • Situated near the base of Shivling.
  • Houses Tapovan meadow.
  • Source of Bhagirathi River, an upstream of Ganga.
  • General slope is north-westward.

Ganga: it’s up streams:

The six headstreams of Ganga joins at different points forming Panch Prayag. They are:

  1. Dhauliganga joins Alaknanda at Vishnuprayag
  2. Nandakini joins Alaknanda at Nandprayag
  3. Pindar joins Alaknanda at Karnaprayag
  4. Mandakini joins Alaknanda at Rudraprayag
  5. Bhagirathi joins Alaknanda at Devprayag
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