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Primary Information


Environmental Science & Climate Change

Project No.


Sanction and Project Initiation

Sanction No:

Sanction Date: 19/01/2017

Project Initiation date: 01/03/2017

Project Duration: 36

Partner Ministry/Agency/Industry

Ministry of Earth Sciences


Role of partner:


Support from partner:

Principal Investigator

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Anil Vishnupant Kulkarni
Indian Institute of Science,

Host Institute


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Dr. RAAJ. Ramsankaran
Indian Institute of Technology Bombay

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Gulab Singh
Indian Institute Technology Bombay

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Ajay Dashora
IIT Guwahati


Scope and Objectives

The main objective is to develop a computerized tool to identify and map potential sites of Moraine dammed lakes, which are likely to form due to the retreating glaciers. We have identified the following sub objectives: Development and validation of model to estimate spatial distribution of glacier depth. Development and validation of mass balance model to understand future changes in the glacier extent due to climate change. Estimation of location, volume and possible period of lake formation. Development of a computerized decision support tool by integrating different models for future applications.


A GIS based decision support tool to estimate spatial distribution of glacier depth, changes in glacier extent due to climate and potential moraine dammed lake sites. This tool will also provide information on volume of glacier lakes and subsequently on amount of flash flood. It will also provide information on amount of time taken by flash flood to travel from place of origin to nearest human settlement. In addition, project will also deliver new information on selected glaciers, which is not currently available. This include such as spatial distribution of glacier depths, spatial distribution of glacier mass balance, future retreat of selected glaciers. This will be unique contribution in Himalayan glaciology.


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Scientific Output

In this proposal, we are planning to develop a model to estimate the spatial distribution of glacier depth. This information is presently not available to the scientific community. Therefore, this will lead to generation of new information. We are also planning to develop a model based on temperature, precipitation and equilibrium line, to estimate glacier mass balance. This model will substantially improve existing estimates of mass loss. Since this model can be applied to large number of glaciers, information on basin scale mass loss will be available for the first time. Moreover, we are planning to carryout UAV based field survey for the first time in Indian Himalayas for generating high resolution DEM, velocity estimations and glacier facies mapping. This study would help us in identifying the bottlenecks and challenges in using UAVs for glaciological research in such very extreme conditions. If successful, it would have huge implication in the way the current field investigations are carried out in Himalayan glaciers. In addition, we are also planning to develop a model to estimate future changes in glacier area due to changes in precipitation, temperature and mass loss. This will provide a unique data set to the scientific community. This information will lead to the identification and mapping of potential site of moraine dammed lakes, providing head start to the mountain community to manage its future disaster.


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Results and outcome till date

A method based on surface velocity and flow law of ice was developed to estimate ice thickness distribution. Spatial distribution of ice was further used to estimate bottom topography and potential lake sites. The technique is now automated using python code. The method is applied is Sikkim Himalaya and nine possible lake sites were identified. In addition further expansion of four existing lakes were estimated.


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Societal benefit and impact anticipated

Outburst flood form glacier lakes is a major hazard for mountain communities living in the Himalaya. The tool will provide information about existing and potential glacier lakes. This can lead to taking necessary measures to avoid flash flood, improving safety and security of mountain communities.

Next steps

Models are being developed to assess possible flash flood potentials from glacier lake outburst. The technique is based on shallow water approximation. In addition, major efforts are being carried out to validate different model outputs. These are Ground Penetrating Radar measurements to validate glacier depth, GPS observations to validate glacier mass loss and Radio Echo Sounding to measure glacier lake depth.

Publications and reports

Volume estimation of existing and potential glacier lakes: A case study in Sikkim Himalaya, 2018, Current Science (In Press)



Scholars and Project Staff

1. Rupal H Budhbhatti, Project Associate, Indian institute of Science, Bengaluru
2. Tejal Shirsat, Project Assistant, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru
3. Arya A. R, Project Assistant, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru
4. Rohit Kumar, Junior Research Fellow, Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee
5. Reshma U, Junior Research Fellow, Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati
6. Prathana Saikia, Junior Research Fellow, Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati
7. Arnabjan Das, Junior Research Fellow, Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati
8. Suchithra Raveendrakumar, Junior Research Fellow, Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay

Challenges faced


Other information


Financial Information

  • Total sanction: Rs. 34400000

  • Amount received: Rs. 30288000

  • Amount utilised for Equipment: Rs. 7000000

  • Amount utilised for Manpower: Rs. 3269466

  • Amount utilised for Consumables: Rs. 947189

  • Amount utilised for Contingency: Rs. 1092241

  • Amount utilised for Travel: Rs. 4164723

  • Amount utilised for Other Expenses: 1432519

  • Amount utilised for Overheads: Rs. 4240000

Equipment and facilities

UAV was purchased. This will be used to estimate glacier mass balance.

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