|Rivers of ice. Great walls of frozen snow that movemoulding and shaping the
land as they go. Glaciers are certainly one of the most spectacular visions that our
planet features. And pretty daunting to think of, too. Specially nowin peak winter!
But these moving hunks of ice in distant lands,
are not merely some magnificent pictures. In places that are off limits for most of us,
barring scientists and explorers. In fact, they play a vital role in our lives. Just how
closely are they linked to us?
The Himalayan glaciers are the source of
water for rivers that flow across Indo-Gangetic plains. Including the perennial Ganga,
Brahmaputra and Indus. So the lives and livelihoods of the 500 million people who dwell
here are completely dependant on these ice masses. More? Most hydroelectric power plants
that provide electricity to a large section of Indians depend on glacier-fed rivers...
Glaciers cover 10 per cent of the
worlds land area but store about 75 per cent o its freshwater! They provide habitat
to millions of species.
Yes, glaciers are powerful. But they are
also vulnerable to condi-tions like changes in temperature and the amount of winter
snow-fall. In the past few decades, chinks have appeared in the snow armour, say
glaciologists. And they are growing bigger. The 25- km-long Gangotri glacier is shrinking
18 metres every year. The edges of Alaskan glaciers are retreating by more than 3
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