Himalayan Cryospheric Observations and Modelling (HiCOM)

Himalaya is one of the highest and most glacierised areas outside the polar region and referred as “Water Tower of the world”. Understanding the behaviour of the Himalayan glaciers and their contribution to the sustainable supply of water is one of the grand challenges of Indian scientific community. Himalaya is also having vital impact on climate and hydrology of the major populated region of the world. Indian Himalayan cryosphere is the least studied due to the paucity of observations, remoteness, extremely challenging field conditions and limited time window in a year. Since the ongoing climate change is heterogeneous, the Himalayan glacier responses could also be heterogeneous. Systematic long-term scientific investigations of the Himalayan glaciers are necessary to understand their complex behaviour towards the observed and future changes.

ESSO - National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research under the Earth System Science Organization of the Ministry of Earth Sciences is the leading R&D institution in polar and cryospheric sciences. During the 12th Plan, NCAOR initiated glaciological studies on six benchmark glaciers of Western Himalaya under the “Cryosphere and Climate” project. The project is continuing and has already made state-of-the-art research infrastructure in Chandra basin, established a research station called ‘Himansh’ and generated excellent quality of data required for mass, hydrological and energy budget in the basin. Further, a brainstorming meeting was held in April 2016 at NCAOR to prepare MoES Strategy document for “Polar Sciences and Global Change in Water Cycle”. This was followed by a meeting of Himalayan glaciologists in July 2017 during the National Conference on Polar Sciences (NCPS) at NCAOR. Various national experts participated this meeting and recommended the importance of a centrally coordinated multi-institutional programme in specific scientific areas of Himalayan cryosphere.  The Research Advisory Committee of NCAOR during its 17th meeting in October 2017 has also recommended that NCAOR should lead a nationally coordinated Himalayan cryosphere programme with involvement of various national/international institutions. A document was thus prepared with contributions from other experts that has clearly emphasised the need for comprehensive mass balance studies on benchmark glaciers from sub-basins of Western, Central and Eastern Himalaya using integrated glaciological and glacio-hydrological methods.

The major questions identified by the MoES Strategy document include:


  • What are the differential glacier responses (intra-variability) across Himalaya and what are the driving forces behind such responses?
  • What are the dynamics and control of snow cover changes in Himalaya?
  • What is the response of Himalayan cryosphere to climate change/variability and what are the associated hydrological impacts?


Since the scientific questions are broad based and incorporate national interests, NCAOR propose to initiate nationally coordinated initiative called HiCOM (Himalayan Cryospheric Observations and Modelling). Under this MoES-supported initiative, NCAOR is inviting high-quality scientific projects under specific themes that could be supported. While the initiative is broad based and expected to be long-term, initially the projects would focus on few representative and crucial basins/glaciers in different sectors of Himalaya (Western, Middle and Eastern sectors). The projects would be initiatively for the current plan period (2017-2020), with due evaluations from time to time. Data generated by these projects, field campaigns and observational platforms should be shared and will be used to improve the understanding of the processes controlling glacier dynamics, water budget, snow cover distribution etc and also to support and improve the modelling efforts. In addition to this, the projects are expected to contribute to the capacity building in cryospheric sciences, targeting local students/people by promoting their participation, organising training, workshops, field campaigns etc. 

With this background, research proposals are invited in the following scientific areas:

  • Glacier dynamics (Mass balance, glacier flow, ice flux and terminal fluctuation) to identify and quantify the controlling factors that governing glacial dynamic and associated processes in different climatic regime of Himalaya (intra-variability in glacier response) using multiple (glaciological, geodetic, geospatial) techniques
  • Quantification of Snow cover distribution, precipitation, evaporation and other meteorological parameters (temperature, humidity, solar radiation, wind etc) to estimate glacio-energy budget and its governing processes 
  • Estimation of the impact of factors like slope, debris cover, shadow, and aerosol on glacier ablation, discharge and GLOFs
  • Quantification of runoff, discharge, infiltration, ground water contribution and all associated parameters to estimate glacio-hydrological budgeting and modelling of selected basins
  • Development and improving various glaciological and glacio-hydrological models to estimate mass, energy and hydrological balance of Himalayan basins

Call for Scientific Project Proposals


Himalayan Cryospheric Observations and Modelling (HiCOM)

2017-2020 (FY)


Scientific projects under the HiCOM initiative will be sanctioned to personnel/organization satisfying the following criteria. The proposed project should be with in the areas of interest discussed in the section 2.3 ‘Specific areas of interest’. The project may be proposed for maximum three years or till March 31, 2020 whichever is earlier.

2.1. Eligibility

The project will be sanctioned to the scientist (s) / academician(s), who are in regular service from recognised research/academic institutions/ universities. The Principal Investigator (PI) should have sufficient working experience and expertise in the relevant field of proposed project. The PIs are encouraged to design the project proposals involving NCAOR scientists. It is expected that the outcome of the proposed project will significantly enhance/ compliment the ongoing R&D activities and mission mandate of NCAOR. In the case where additional expertise is required to execute the project, the PI can opt for co-PIs.

2.2. Project sanction criteria

The project proposal will be reviewed annually by a Project Monitoring Committee (PMC) established by NCAOR. The committee will consist of eminent scientists working in the relevant field. The evaluation of the proposals will be based on the innovation, deliverables and financial targets. The PMC will also assess the progress of the project every year and evaluate the benchmarks proposed by the PI. Although the sanction of the project will be till March 31, 2020, the extension of the project for each financial year will be based on the progress made during previous year and subsequent recommendations of PMC on the necessity of continuation of the project.

2.3. Specific areas of interest

Specific areas of interest to be studied and addressed in the project proposal are:

1.    Glacier dynamics study (mass balance, glacier flow, ice flux and terminal fluctuation) to identify and quantify the controlling factors that governing glacial dynamics and associated processes in different climatic regimes of Himalaya (intra-variability in glacier response) using multiple (glaciological, geodetic, geospatial) techniques. 

2.    Quantification of snow cover distribution, precipitation, evaporation and other meteorological parameters (temperature, humidity, solar radiation, wind, etc.) to estimate glacio-energy budget and its governing processes.   

3.    Quantification of runoff, discharge, infiltration, ground water contribution and all associated parameters to undertake glacio-hydrological budgeting and modelling of selected basins  

4.    Estimation of the impact of factors like slope, debris cover, shadow, and aerosol on glacier ablation, discharge and GLOFs  

5.    Development and improving various glaciological and glacio-hydrological models to estimate mass, energy and hydrological balance of Himalayan basins 

2.4. Submission of proposals

Proposals in duly given format (Annexure 1) along with all essential endorsement and certificates in the prescribed format should be sent to:

The Director, ESSO - National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research,

Headland Sada, Vasco doa Gama, Goa 403 804.

The envelope should be clearly superscriptedHiCOM Project Proposal”.

The final proposal should reach NCAOR on or before 14th February 2018.

2.5. Sanction of Equipments

PIs may propose to purchase equipments and peripherals for successful implementation of the project. However, NCAOR does not encourage the PIs to purchase of major scientific instruments as part of the project. The PIs who do not have high end scientific instruments at the host institution, may make use of instrument/ facilities available at NCAOR and HIMANSH station.

2.6. Sanction of Manpower

Manpower will be sanctioned in the pay scales of JRF / SRF / Research Associate and Field Assistant (FA) / Technical Assistant (TA). The recruitment rules applicable for the manpower in the host institute may be followed. Further, it is expected that the PI would be in regular service during the project period and will not be paid from the project. In some special cases, project may accommodate superannuated scientists / academicians as “Consultant”, with proper justification and detailed specific work element to be done by the Consultant. However, the sanction of the same will be based on the recommendation of PMC and will be paid honorarium as per the norms of Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES). In such cases special consent is required from the host institute to extend the infrastructure facilities to execute the project.

2.7. Financial Framework

The funding required for executing the project should be proposed under the recurring and non-recurring budget heads. The non-recurring budget head includes Equipments/instruments (if any) and Computer Items (Hardware, Software, Peripherals). The recurring budget head includes: 1) Manpower, 2) Field Expedition expenditure, 3) Consumables & Labwares; 4) TA/DA, workshops, etc. 6) Contingency and 7) Institutional overheads (≤ 15%) on the recurring heads. The amount proposed towards Contingency should not exceed 10% of the project cost.

2.8. NCAOR Objectives

NCAOR is an autonomous R&D institute fully funded by the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) and mandated with the polar and cryospheric research in the country. At NCAOR, the scientific mandate is multidisciplinary, which has as its focal theme, cryospheric research in those areas that are currently not being undertaken by any other institution in India. Our prime objective under this initiative is to generate quality long-term cryospheric data in Himalaya and maintain a database.  Therefore, it is expected that all the data generated as part of the projects sanctioned should be sent to NCAOR on timely basis and should not be shared with any other agencies. Apart from this, we also expect the project to contribute towards development of an operational product. NCAOR also expect that the project should lead to high quality collaborative research articles to be published in SCI cited journals. NCAOR also expect the research scholars recruited under the project should register for PhD degrees. The students, interested to do their projects for fulfilment to get awarded their M.Sc. or M.Phil degree, could be entertained in such a way that they can also be a beneficiary of this project. Project Investigators are required to ensure that due acknowledgement of the financial assistance received from NCAOR/MoES should be made in the research paper(s) and report(s) published. NCAOR also expects that the concerned NCAOR scientists are involved in the academic / scientific activities of the host institute, including recognition as doctoral thesis supervisors, wherever feasible.  

2.9. Project Closure Report

The PI shall submit the Project Closure Report within three months from the date of completion of the project. The closure report shall provide clear details of the achievements, deliverables, etc. along with the Consolidated Expenditure Statement for the entire project period.

2.10. Terms and conditions for issue of the project

1. The Principal Investigator (PI) shall be a permanent employee of the host Institution / University/ Research Laboratory/ Organization, and is expected to have sufficient exposure and prior experience in the proposed field. All basic facilities by way of accommodation, infrastructure etc. required for the project shall be provided by the host organization.

2. Project will be sanctioned for a specific period and the date of commencement of the project will be the issue of sanction order. The release of further funds will be only against the submission of (i) Audited Utilization Certificate, (ii) Audited Statement of Expenditure, (iii) List of assets & Physical Stock Verification Certificate, and (iv) Annual Progress Report. Accounts should be maintained in a separate Register by controlling authority. This account shall be subjected to the audit and the report should be submitted periodically. If it is found expedient to keep a part or whole of the grant in bank account earning interest, the interest thus yielded should be reported to the NCAOR. This will be treated as credit to the host Institution / University /Organization and will be adjusted in the subsequent releases of the grant by NCAOR/MoES. The final audited statement of accounts pertaining to the grant should be submitted within 3 months of the termination / completion of the project. The audited accounts shall be submitted and the unspent balance if any shall be remitted to NCAOR. The Comptroller and Auditor General of India at its discretion shall have the right to access the books and audits of the Institution / University / Organization for the grants received from NCAOR/MoES.

3. Allocation of funds for various budgetary items as sanctioned shall be adhered strictly. Any deviation either in spending the money from the sanctioned amount for each head or after the lapse of time should be spent only after obtaining the prior approval from NCAOR. No amount can be transferred from one head to other head without the prior approval of NCAOR. All the funds will be released through Public Finance management System (PFMS) and PI to put the expenditure only through this module and upload the UC at the end of the every year. For one time registration of child agency, the PI to send the details of the organization to NCAOR in the format specified.

4. The host Institution / University / Organization is not permitted to seek or utilize funds from any other organization (Government / Semi-Government / Autonomous or Private) for the same project.

5. Research Associates / Fellows and Technical Supporting Staff like Technician, Field Assistants can be appointed as per the guidelines of the concerned host institute. The project staff shall not to be treated as employees of the NCAOR. The deployment of such staff after the completion/ termination of the project will not be the concern / responsibility of the NCAOR.

6. The PI shall submit one hard copy and a soft copy of the annual progress report of the project by second week of April of every year during the entire duration of the project. The review committee constituted by NCAOR will review the progress of the work and suggest measures to ensure an early realization of the results of the project. During the execution period of the project, the host Institution / University / Organization shall extend all facilities to the committee of experts who will be on inspection / review.

7.                  Domestic Travel can be included for participation in scientific conferences / symposia / workshops etc connected with the project. International Travel cost is not allowed out of project funds.

8. The equipment/instrument not available in the nearby and expendable items to laboratory supplies, and cost of computer time etc., may be proposed. However, equipment/instrument should be ordered within ninety days from the date of sanctioning of the project.

9. For permanent/semi permanent assets acquired solely or mainly out of the grant including books, furniture, etc., an audited record in the form of a register shall be maintained by the host Institution / University / Organization for the record purpose. The term Asset means (i) Immovable property or (ii) Movable Property of a capital nature where the value exceeds Rs.10,000/-. However, the grant shall not be utilized for construction of any building. At the end of each financial year, a physical stock verification certificate together with asset details is to be provided for the assets acquired under the project grants for the audit purpose.

10. All the assets including equipment/instrument, prototype acquired or fabricated out of project funds etc, will be property of NCAOR. They will remain with the host Institution / University / Organization concerned unless or otherwise directed by NCAOR. These should not be disposed off or encumbered or utilized for any purpose other than those for which the grant is sanctioned during the project period.

11. At the conclusion of the Project, NCAOR will decide about the assets acquired under the project funding. NCAOR has the discretion to give the assets to the Institution if it considers it appropriate. The money generated out of sale proceeds of assets of NCAOR if any, shall be remitted to NCAOR account. However, the host Institution / University / Organization shall render necessary facilities for arranging the sale of assets or transfer them to other places as per the desires of NCAOR.

12. Reports / Dissertation / Thesis / Publications coming out of this research work shall be forwarded to NCAOR immediately after their release. Proper acknowledgement should be given to NCAOR/MoES.

13. The host Institution / University / Organization shall submit all drawings, source codes and technical documentations pertaining to the products of the project at any time as desired by NCAOR. The know-how generated either from the project or the receipts by way of sale of know-how, royalty, etc. will be property of NCAOR. NCAOR may, at its discretion allow a portion of such receipts to be retained by the host organization. However, sale of know-how, collection and settling the rate of royalty etc. would be decided by the NCAOR.

14. In case of change of PI to whom the project is sanctioned, the PI shall submit an up to date status report of the project and accounts and shall hand over the same to the 1st co-investigator who will become PI after obtaining the necessary permission from the host organization as well as from NCAOR.

15. In case where the host organization is unable to execute or complete the work, the entire amount received in the form of a grant shall be returned to NCAOR along with penal interest. In such case the host organization shall not entrust this work, in full / partial, to any other Institution / University / Organizations for implementation.

16. NCAOR shall terminate the grant at any stage if convinced either grant of the project is not being properly utilized or work is not progressing according to the milestones.

17. In case, where there is violation of any of these conditions for the grant, closure or dissolution of the host organization, NCAOR shall take possession of all the assets acquired under the project grants, and use them in any manner deemed appropriate or to recover from the host organization, to an extent the total value of the Project including penal interest.


To view Annexure 1 Click here

To view Annexure 2 Click here

To view Annexure 3 Click here