Background: As part of the Indian government’s initiatives for better understanding of glacier –climate inter-relationship and quantify the Himalayan glacier responses towards the climate change, National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR), Goa, under the Ministry of Earth Sciences has established a high altitude research station in Himalaya called HIMANSH. HIMANSH is a dedicated Research Station established at Sutri Dhaka, Chandra Basin, Lahaul-Spiti valley of Himachal Pradesh which has an altitude of 4080m amsl. The station was unveiled on Sunday 9th October 2016 and since then the station has made for functioning round the year however for 2016 it have plan to closed during winter (15th November to April 2017).
Name : HIMANSH
Place : Sutri Dhaka, Chandra basin, Lahaul-Spiti District of Himachal Pradesh
Latitude : 32°24’34”
Longitude : 77°36’32"
Altitude : 4080m amsl
Approach: The nearest town is Manali, which is approximately 150km from HIMANSH. HIMANSH established at Sutri Dhaka which is 6-7 km from road head name Batal. Batal is lies on Manali-Kaza route having an approx. 143 km distance from Manali. . The connecting road is a mountain road and only opens during June-November.
Manali 143 km Batal 7 km Sutri Dhaka
Introduction: HIMANSH has three units which includes two accommodation units which accommodate eight persons at a time and one Laboratory unit equipped with various scientific instruments such as Steam Drill, Ground Penetrating Radar, Global Positioning System, Snow Fork, Snow/Ice Corer, Flow Tracker, Water Level Recorder, Automatic Weather Station, Radiometer etc for Glaciological Research.
Objectives: To facilitate Himalayan Cryosphare Studies in Chandra basin to study the dynamics and the rate of change of Himalayan glaciers to understand its impact on hydrology and climate. Since Upper Himalaya has dominated by very harsh climate and terrain conditions, the station will enable scientists and field staff to stay in relatively weather resistant environment and carry out field experiments and monitoring on a continuous basis. This station “HIMANSH” has established under NCAOR programm “Cryosphare and Climate” for proper monitoring of glaciers to understand dynamics, mass budget, energy and hydrological balance of Chandra basin.
Observations: A total of six glaciers (280 km2 glacier area) of Chandra basin name Sutri Dhaka(25 km2), Batal (5 km2), Bara Shigri (137 km2), Samudra Tapu (95 km2), Gepang Gath (14 km2) and Kunjum (4 km2)have been monitoring for mass, energy and hydrological balance including surface flow, ice flux, terminal fluctuation using this station “HIMANSH”. Apart from above two Automatic Weather Stations (AWS) and five Water Level Recorders (WLRs) have been installed over glacier surface and along with a stretch of 120km of Chandra River respectively for energy and hydrological budget calculation. This all generated data will help to understand glacier behaviours in respect to climate including quantification of hydrological contribution to Chandra basin (upper Indus basin).
All the glaciers under observation in the Chandra basin (Western Himalaya), during the last 2-3 years have shown cumulative negative mass balance. Mass balance is found to be dependent on solar radiation, debris cover, local and regional precipitation, slope and the shading effect of surrounding steep slopes. Debris cover is one of the significant controlling factors for spatial variability of ablation rate. In contrast to the normal ablation pattern, debris covered glaciers experienced an inverse ablation rate with altitude. Thicker debris protect ice surface efficiently from melting than thin debris. Maximum discharge takes place from mid-July to mid-August further drastically decreases from mid of September. In Indus basin, estimated glacier melt contributes ~44% of the total discharge however for Chandra basin it is much higher (70-80%) of the total discharge.