16 April, 2012

Siachen Glacier can become a Peace Park

Sana Jamal

Islamabad – In the background of recent tragedy in Siachen, an expert suggested on Monday that a ‘third party” should ensure the preservation of Siachen glaciers by limiting the military activities at the highest peak. Speaking at a seminar here on Monday, Arshad H. Abbasi, Water and Energy Adviser said that “it is high time to make a joint appeal to UN for the protection of our glaciers by turning it into a peace park for good bilateral relations” as the melting of the glaciers would not only be a threat to Pakistan and India but to other regional countries.
Three important reasons cited as the main causes of fast melting of glaciers are: global warming, deposition of carbon content on glaciated ice and heavy military presence and activities. “Prevalence of black carbon content is one of the major reasons behind the melting of Siachen Glacier, one of the Himalayan glaciers and the largest in the world outside of the polar regions” pointed out Dr Qamar uz Zaman Chaudhry, Advisor Climate Affairs speaking at the seminar on ‘Climate Change and Siachen Glacier: A Global Challenge’ organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI).

“Trans-boundary pollution that results in to heavy deposits of carbon on glaciated ice has triggered the temperature to rise, due to more absorption of solar radiation.” Average temperature in northern areas has increased by 0.76 C with increase in frequency of heat waves that had adversely affected the environment in the region. At least over 9000 causalities have been reported since 1984 and three-fourth of the losses were suffered by India, highlighted the experts calling for demilitarization of Siachen glacier.
Referring to the world’s highest helipad, Sonam, built by India at 21000 feet above the sea level, to supply its troops, he said Melting of the Siachen glacier is the direct result of large scale military interventions caused by use of chemicals to melt and cut through the age-old glacial ice to construct bunkers, camps, helipads and airfields.” Rejecting the notion that global warming is melting Siachen glacier, he cited NASA report ‘Advancing Glaciers and Positive Mass Anomaly in the Karakoram Himalaya’ and a study by University of Grenoble, France which states that more than 65% of glaciers in the Karakoram are mounting. “If adjoining glaciers are gaining further mass, then it is indeed a case of direct human interference that is melting Siachen,” argued Ababsi.

Prevalence of black carbon content was considered as one of the major reasons behind Siachen glacier’s rapid melting by the experts. “Military activities involving heavy omissions of black carbon have strong correlation with the depleting glaciers including occurrences of incidents such as Ghayari” said Dr Qamar uz Zaman.