28 Jan 2021

28 Jan 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESSD.

Glacier Changes in the Chhombo Chhu Watershed of Tista basin between 1975 and 2018, Sikkim Himalaya, India

Arindam Chowdhury1, Milap Chand Sharma2, Sunil Kumar De1, and Manasi Debnath1 Arindam Chowdhury et al.
  • 1Department of Geography, North-Eastern Hill University, Shillong - 793022, Meghalaya, India
  • 2Centre for the Study of Regional Development, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi 110067, India

Abstract. Glaciers of the Tista basin represent an important water resource for mountain communities and large population downstream. The present article attempts to assess the observable changes in the glacier area in the Chhombo Chhu Watershed (CCW) of Tista basin, Sikkim Himalaya. The CCW consists of 74 glaciers (>0.02 km2) with a mean glacier size of 0.61 km2. The change of such glacier outlines obtained from the declassified hexagon KH-9 (1975), Landsat 5 TM (1989), Landsat 7 ETM+ (2000), Landsat 5 TM (2010), and Sentinel 2A (2018). The total glacier area in 1975 was 62.6 ±0.7 km2; by 2018, the area had decreased to 44.8 ±1.5 km2, an area loss of 17.9 ± 1.7 km2 (0.42 ± 0.04 km2 a−1). Debris free glaciers exhibit more area loss by 11.8 ± 1.2 km2 (0.27 ± 0.03  km2 a−1) followed by partially debris-covered (5.0 ± 0.4 km2 or 0.12 ± 0.01 km2 a−1) and maximum debris-covered (1.0 ± 0.1 km2 or −0.02 ± 0.002 km2 a−1) glaciers. The quantum of glacier area loss in the CCW of Sikkim Himalaya took its pace during 2000–2010 (0.62 ± 0.5 km2 a−1) and 2010–2018 (0.77 ± 0.6 km2 a−1) timeframes. Field investigations of selected glaciers and climatic records also support the trend in glacier recession in the CCW due to a significant increase in temperature trend and more or less static precipitation since 1995. Glacier retreat rates in the CCW were almost similar to the Changme Khangpu basin and other selected glaciers in Sikkim Himalaya. This glacier inventory and area change analysis will provide valuable information to the glaciological and hydrological community to model and plan the water resources in the Sikkim state of Eastern Himalaya. The dataset is now available from the Zenodo web portal: (Chowdhury et al., 2021).

Arindam Chowdhury et al.

Status: open (until 27 Mar 2021)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse

Arindam Chowdhury et al.

Data sets

Glacier Inventories in the Chhombo Chhu Watershed of Tista basin, Sikkim Himalaya, India [Data set] Chowdhury, A., Sharma, M. C., De, S. K., and Debnath, M.

Arindam Chowdhury et al.


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Short summary
This research presents an integrated watershed based study of glacier change across the CCW in Sikkim Himalaya, from 1975 to 2018. This glacier analysis comprised of 74 glaciers with a total area of 44.8 ± 1.5 km2 including 64 debris free glaciers with an area of 28.4 ± 1.1 km2 (63.4 % of total glacier area) in 2018. Mean glacier area of the watershed stands at 0.61 km2, with dominance of small-sized glaciers. Our mapping revealed that there has been the glacier area recession of 17.9 ± 1.7 km2.