Kashmir Visuals
Kashmir Visuals
Sunday, May 19, 2024

No snow in 2024: Deep dive into Kashmir’s mysterious dry winter

From Nepal to the Indian region of the Hindu Kush, snow-deprived mountain peaks are alarming about the consequences of global warming and climate change

As the world warms and climate change affects every nook and corner of the planet, the Himalayan region is feeling the wrath as the snow disappears from the mountains like never before.

Not just the frequency of snowfall, but the number of cold days has also significantly gone down in the hills with both day and night temperatures having soared, all indicating the impact of climate change.

ALARMING CONSEQUENCES IN THE HINDU KUSH

From Nepal to the Indian region of the Hindu Kush, snow-deprived mountain peaks are alarming about the consequences of global warming and climate change.

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While weather experts are hopeful that there could be some good snowfall by the end of this month, the situation remains grim at the moment. It has been a dry winter so far until mid-January 2024, with a rain deficit this winter season. November had an 80% deficit, December saw a 79%, and January so far has seen a 100% deficit

“We may expect some snowfall in the next 7 to 8 days if the present conditions persist. Winter duration has reduced over the past years. Earlier, J&K had a winter season from October to March, but now it is restricted to December and January. This can be attributed to climate change and global warming that is being witnessed worldwide. The nature of precipitation is also changing from what was earlier in the form of snow to now rain. Snowfall has also gone down,” says Mukhtar Ahmed, the Head of the IMD Centre in Srinagar.

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KASHMIR NOT ALONE

A similar situation has also been witnessed in Himachal Pradesh as well as Uttarakhand. Famous tourist destinations known for international ski competitions are experiencing a severe lack of snow. The higher altitude areas of the Annapurna range too have similar stories to tell.

Dr. Rijan Bhakta, Professor at Kathmandu University’s Department of Environmental Science and Engineering “This year very little winter precipitation has been witnessed in Nepal, and because of the weak Western Disturbance, there has been very little snowfall across the Himalayas.”

Professor Bhakta says that we will have rain in the Himalayas, but the delay in the snowfall and the weaker Western disturbance will create a hydroecology crisis, and subsequently, the winter crop will not be as good. The crop production will be affected even if the precipitation is going to be good in the coming days since it’s already very late. He too blames it on climate change.

 

UNIQUE HIMALAYAN CRYOSPHERE UNDER THREAT

The Himalayan cryosphere, which is going through a major change, owes its uniqueness to the snow covers in the Himalayas.

No snow in 2024: Deep dive into Kashmir's mysterious dry winter

“There has been very light snowfall in the mountain region in the northern part of India so far. This is due to the weak intensity of the Western Disturbances. Last season too, the snowfall was late, and started towards the end of December 2022, carried on till January 2023,” says Mahesh Palawat, Vice President of Meteorology And Climate Change, Skymet Weather.

VULNERABILITY OF THE HIMALAYAN REGION

Several research studies have indicated the vulnerability of the Himalayan region. The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, during his visit to Nepal in October last year, had said that Nepal has lost nearly a third of its ice volume in just the last three decades, with glaciers melting 65% faster in the last decade than before.

Studies suggest that warming in the Himalayas has been much greater than the global average of 0.74 degrees Celsius over the last 100 years, according to the Hindukush Himalaya Assessment Report. Glacier retreat in the region is attributed to “precipitation decrease in combination with temperature increase. The glacier shrinkage will speed up if the climatic warming and drying continues,” according to research.

The falling precipitation trend over the Central Himalayas is linked to an increasing trend in the synoptic-scale activity of the western disturbances, while the Central Himalayan region experiences a falling local precipitation trend.

A BLEAK WINTER LANDSCAPE

The most visible indication so far remains the dry winter and the snowless mountains that dominate parts of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttarakhand.

“This isn’t merely a seasonal aberration; it’s a wake-up call to the intricate dance between climate and our actions. The frigid winds whisper a reminder: the time for climate resilience and sustainable choices is now,” says Prof. Anjal Prakash, Clinical Associate Professor (Research) and Research Director, Bharti Institute of Public Policy, ISB and IPCC Author.

In Short

  • There could be some good snowfall days by the end of this month
  • It has been a dry winter so far until mid-January 2024
  • November had an 80% deficit, December saw a 79% snow deficit

 

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