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Forest fires could melt glaciers faster: Report

KOLKATA: Black carbon generated from forest fires could be leading to faster melting ofHimalayan glaciers and affect flow of snow-fed rivers, warns a new study.

"The mass balance of numerous glaciers located in the lower ranges of the Himalayas, such as Pir Panjal and Greater Himalayas, could be significantly affected due to deposition of black carbon on the accumulation area in addition to changes in temperature and precipitation," says a report by scientists of Divecha Center for Climate Change at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore.

During their investigation, they analysed the change in 'reflectance' in the accumulation area of Baspa basin in Himachal Pradesh for the year 2009, as the region has experienced extensive forest fires along with northern Indian biomass burning.

Their report shows that the drop in 'reflectance' in the visible region from April to May in the accumulation area was significantly higher in 2009 than in any other year from 2000 to 2012.

The number of forest fires in the summer of 2009 was substantially higher than in any other year between 2001 and 2010.

"This can only be explained by the deposition of black carbon. The study suggests that a change in snow albedo in the accumulation area due to the deposition of black carbon from anthropogenic and natural causes can influence the mass balance of the glaciers in the Baspa basin, Himachal Pradesh, India," says scientist A V Kulkarni.

Times of India (11-07-2013)