In Kargil, dozens of small glaciers have vanished and the Siachen glacier is melting fast, leading to floods in the Nubra river. The Siachen glacier is the source of the Nubra river, which goes on to form the Nubra valley north east of the Ladakh valley. With climate change having a direct, and adverse, effect on this region, Ladakh is witnessing frequent flash floods because of vanishing glaciers. According to local scientists, the entire Kargil area has come under threat as the Zanskar glacier is receding. Glacial lakes have started forming in the upper regions because of the rapid melting of snow. Shakeel Ramshu, head of the department of Earth Science in the University of Kashmir, said, “It is a dangerous situation in the Ladakh region, which needs immediate attention of the government.” He added that the vanishing of small glaciers shows the speed with which global warming was impacting this region.
Nun-Kun or the Kangriez glacier (as it is known locally), which is the main source of the Suru river, is showing signs of fast retreat. “The Nun road, which goes towards Zanskar was covered with glacier and snow until a few years ago. There is now very little snowfall in the winters here,” said Ghulam Ali, a local resident.
According to the locals, winters have been dry in the past few years and snowfall starts late and continues into March. Unseasonal snowfall and rainfall, dry winters and rising temperatures are becoming more common. “Nun-Kun and Siachen are retreating. Since the time I visited this place in 2011, dozens of small glaciers have vanished and the Nun-Kun glacier is also melting,” said a local trekker. The Nubra river, also known as the Siachen river, has surplus water because of the melting of the snow in the Siachen glacier.
The state government has drafted a detailed project report earmarking Rs 350 crore for the protection of the bunds on the river. “The Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council should start work for the protection of the 59 km long Siachen river as there are frequent floods in it because of the melting of the glacier,” said Deldan Namgial, a lawmaker from the area.