• Himalayan region has the largest concentration of glaciers outside the polar caps, as this region is aptly called the “Water Tower of Asia” is the source of the 10 major river systems that provide irrigation, power and drinking water for over 700 million people live in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh– nearly 10% of the world’s population. Understanding the behavior of these glaciers and their contribution to the sustainable supply of water for mankind and agriculture is one of the grand challenges of Indian scientific community.
• Thus the Ministry of Earth Sciences has established a high altitude research station in Himalaya called HIMANSH (literally meaning, a slice of ice), situated above 13,500 ft (> 4000 m) at a remote region in Spiti, Himachal Pradesh.
What are key objectives of HIMANSH?
• The research lab, established by the National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR), has automatic weather stations, ground penetrating radars, geodetic GPS systems and other sophisticated facilities to study glaciers and their discharge.
• The facility will serve as the base for Terrestrial Laser Scanners and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to digitize glacier movements and snow cover variations, said a communication from the NACOR.
• Further, the researchers would be using this as a base for undertaking surveys using Terrestrial Laser Scanners (TLS) and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) that would digitize the glacier motion and snow cover variations with exceptional precision.