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After GLOF hit Sikkim in October last, govt conducts scientific expedition to East Rathong glacier

First Published: 26th June, 2024 19:35 IST

The expedition to East Rathong glacier includes three days trek from Yuksom, the last motorable village in West Sikkim.

With an aim to study the glacier dynamics and the impact of climate change on the Himalayas, the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of Sikkim is undertaking a scientific expedition to East Rathong glacier in West Sikkim.

The two weeks long expedition which began on June 22 aims to advance the understanding of glacier dynamics and the impacts of climate change on the Himalayan region.

The expedition, which is led by a distinguished team of scientists and researchers, is equipped with state-of-the-art instruments and technologies to ensure precise and accurate data collection.

“The threats associated with climate change are evident and more and more threats are likely to emerge in the future” said Dr. Sandeep Tambe, IFS, Secretary, DST, Government of Sikkim.

“Such proactive scientific expeditions are required to ensure the Government of Sikkim’s vision of Sunaulo Sikkim, Samriddha Sikkim”, he added.

As per official notification, the expedition to East Rathong glacier includes three days trek from Yuksom, the last motorable village in West Sikkim.

The main glacier occupies an area of 4.8 square kilometer and has a length of 7 kilometre. The total catchment area of East Rathong glacier up to the gauging site is 19.8 square kilometer, it said.

It further added that the DST, Govt. of Sikkim has been conducting the long-term monitoring of East Rathong glacier since 2012. Scientists and researchers from the department have been conducting extensive field research twice every year since then.

However, at least nineteen potentially vulnerable glacial lakes have been identified in the state of Sikkim.
“The major objectives of the expedition include bathymetric survey of 3 potentially vulnerable glacial lakes-Rathong lake, Bhaley Pokhari and Tikip La lake; stake installation for study of glacier velocity, study of vertical retreat of East Rathong glacier, glacio-hydrology of East Rathong melt water stream, and maintenance and upgradation of automatic weather station installed at Rathong glacier,” the statement said.

The October 4, 2023 flood in Sikkim highlighted the urgent need for comprehensive glacier and glacial lake studies.

The findings will not only enrich scientific knowledge but also guide policies and strategies for climate adaptation and disaster risk reduction in the region.



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