December 28, 2013

Burphu Glacier Retreat, Uttar Pradesh, India

Posted by Mauri Pelto

Burphu Glacier is in Uttar Pradesh, India draining into the Goriganga River. The Burphu Gad stream enters the Goriganga a short distance upstream of the proposed hydropower project at Bogudiyar. This project is slated at 370 MW, and will have only a minor dam to divert the water from the river for a short distance before running through turbines and returning to the river. The map of the area is a 1940’s era map with the terminus of the Burphu Glacier indicated by the yellow arrow.burphu map

Here we examine Google Earth imagery and Landsat imagery from 2000-2013 to identify more recent changes. The Burphu Glacier has a substantial accumulation zone above 5000 m, before the glacier narrows and flows through an icefall descending to 4300 m where the glacier reaches the main valley and turns southwest, yellow arrow indicates map terminus, red arrow 2012 terminus. In the 2000 Landsat image the blue ice tongue of the Burphu Glacier reaches the main valley at the westward turn where debris cover than dominates, red arrow. By 2013 the Landsat image indicates the blue ice tongue no longer reaches the main valley, red arrow. In 2012 the Google Earth image illustrates an area of bare rock at 4400 m at the red arrow indicating that the Burphu Glacier terminates above the main valley as suggested by the Landsat 2013 image, though some relict ice remains in the main valley below. An even closer view indicates that the other tributary to the main valley tongue of the Burphu Glacier no longer reaches it either, pink arrow. Thus, this area with some pockets of relict glacier ice buried under debris cover is now fully detached. The total glacier retreat from the 1940’s mapped terminus to 2012 is 2800 meters. The retreat from 2000-2012 is at least meters 250 m as this the distance from the relict main valley ice to the current terminus. The retreat of this glacier is very similar to that of the nearby Kalabaland Glacier and is following the pattern of Malana Glacier, Milam Glacier and Satopanth Glacier in this region. burphu overview
Google Earth overview 2012

burphu 2000
2000 Landsat Image

burphu 2013
2013 Landsat Image

burphu 2012
2012 Google Earth view

burphu closeup