Press Releases

  • TERI collaborates with Iceland in the fields of glaciology and soil science

    15 January 2010

    President of Iceland HE Dr. Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson initiates the collaboration between scientists in Iceland, India and the United States.

    The challenges facing the international community in the 21st century are primarily posed by changes in the natural environment. This applies to India and the sub-continent more starkly than most other regions of the world, as changes in weather patterns and the climate are bound to cause profound changes in the Himalaya. Of particular consequence will be changes of the glaciers. According to predictions of scientific merit they may indeed melt away in several decades. This, in turn, will have implications for the entire water system of the sub-continent, with immediate effect on soil, water management, and the possibilities of food production.

    Looking at the unfolding scenario in the mountains and the immediate need for scientific collaboration and research on this issue, University of Iceland in collaboration with The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) and the Carnegie Corporation of New York have joined hands to work in the fields of glaciology and soil science, and will enable Indian scientists and students to seek training in Iceland and the United States. The purpose of this joint effort is to improve understanding of the effects of climate change on the Himalaya and the manifold consequences that follow for the possibilities of water management and food production on the plains below.

    Present on the occasion was the President of Iceland HE Dr. Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, Dr R K Pachauri, Director-General TERI, and the joint teams from - University of Iceland, Ohio State University and the TERI Glaciology team, headed by Prof Syed Iqbal Hasnain.

    Speaking on research and collaboration in the field of glaciers, HE Dr. Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, said, “There is an immediate need to enhance the knowledge of receding glaciers, which will have a major impact on ecology and social security. Consequently, the potential impacts of climate change in the Himalayan region are very likely to have a strong influence on food and water security. Hence it is important to bring the scientists from India and Iceland on a common platform and discuss on the future framework of research cooperation.

    Elaborating on the collaboration, Dr R K Pachauri, said, “The presence of Iceland as a country makes this initiative of great value as Iceland has a great understanding of this issue, which goes back a century. Scientific data assimilated by IPCC is very robust and it is universally acknowledged that glaciers are melting because of climate change. The Energy & Resources Institute (TERI) in its endeavor to facilitate the development of an effective policy framework and their strategic implementation for the adaptation and mitigation of climate change impacts on the local population is happy to collaborate with the University of Iceland, Ohio State University and the Carnegie Corporation of New York, under the leadership of HE Dr. Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson.

    Elaborating on the Himalayan scenario and explaining that TERI has already started working in the area of receding glaciers, Prof. Syed Iqbal Hasnain, Distinguished Fellow, TERI said “Himalayan region holds the key to Indian ecological and social security by virtue of its being the centre for biological and cultural diversity, the final destination of its life sustaining monsoon, and storehouse for snow and glaciers and other natural resources. However, global warming by long lived and short lived climate forcers is adversely affecting the Himalayan cryosphere, impacting food and water security for 1.3 billion people. This collaboration will provide latest information on status of Himalayan glaciers to the policy makers.”

    Under this collaboration, senior scientists from the respective countries will carry expeditions in the Himalayas. The collaboration, which is its early stage, will be funded primarily by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. President Grimsson announced his intention to dedicate the funds associated with the Nehru Prize for International Understanding conferred to him by the Government of India, to support scientific collaboration between India and Iceland.

    TERI has initiated the establishment of Glacier Monitoring Observatories at Kolahoi Glacier, Jammu and Kashmir and another at East Rathong Glacier, Sikkim. These two glaciers are being monitored with the state-of-art scientific instruments on a regular basis for various parameters like Energy Balance, Mass Balance and Hydrological Balance for the glacierized region. However, in order to broaden the scope of glacier research, that may represent all the micro-climatic settings across Himalaya, and may ensure highly accurate predictions for the future flow patterns of Himalayan rivers, leading to the development of regional stream flow models, more benchmark glaciers need to be included in TERI’s network of Glacier Monitoring Observatories. All these Glaciers need to be studied simultaneously on a long term basis for all the climate change parameters regulating the melting patterns of Himalayan glaciers. This collaboration will help in policy making towards adaptation and mitigation strategy and help in developing a regional model whereby enhancing the observing system.