MINGORA: The glaciers in Swat are melting fast due to rising temperature, local people say. They claim that the phenomenon has caused flashfloods in the area.
The residents of the hilly areas and shepherds, who stay at the alpine glacial zones in Swat, said that they observed that glaciers had become thinner.
“When I was a young boy there was a huge glacier. We would walk on it to reach our hamlet. We would sleep and play on it but now that huge glacier has decreased to a small and thin piece,” said Khan Mohammad, an elderly shepherd in Bashigram alpine zone.
He said that weather used to be severely cold in the months of July and August but it became moderate then.
Musa Gul, another shepherd, who reared his cattle at Jabba pasture in Kalam valley, said that there were more than 30 glaciers in the surrounding of Jabba pasture but the number decreased to five.
Official says situation can get worse if rise in temperature continues at same pace
“Two small lakes near Godar Lake also disappeared. There is no sign of many glaciers now,” he told media.
Similarly, thousands of springs of fresh water in the lower Swat have also dried due to the rising temperature.
“There was a big spring near our house that provided drinking water to thousands of houses of two villages. Now the residents of the villages face acute water shortage as the spring has dried long ago,” said Abdul Wadood, a resident of Malookabad area in Mingora.
According to a report, prepared by a local organisation ‘Lasoona’ on climate change and disaster risks, water sector is more vulnerable to climate change in Swat in terms of glaciations, decrease in surface runoff, potable water availability, sever events, drying of lakes and springs etc.
“The annual flow of the Swat River shows a decline of 0.03 cubic m/sec. The annual as well as seasonal trends of flow show decrease throughout the series and will get worse in future,” says the report.
The report states that a continuous decrease has been recorded in the rainfall during the winter season after 1995 that will not only turn the weather warm in summer but will also provide suitable condition for the melting of glaciers in the valley.
“Resultantly, the flow of rivers during summer will decline and cause dryness of springs at the high altitude settlements of the area,” the report adds.
Zakir Hussain, the assistant director of environment, when contacted, said that increase in temperature caused glacial melting faster in the upper Swat that posed threat not only to human lives but also to the flora and fauna of the area.
“Large glaciers at the mountain chains of upper Swat are on retreat and if rise in the temperature continues with the same pace the situation will get worse due to fast melting of the glaciers,” he said.
There are hundreds of small and big glacial lakes in the Himalaya and Hindu Kush mountain ranges in Swat.
These are considered major water sources for millions of people living at the low lying areas.