Weekly Current Affairs

Climate change forces Army to rethink Siachen deployment procedures [Defence]

  • In February last year, an ice wall collapsed on Sonam post at 21,000 feet on the northern Siachen glacier, burying 10 soldiers of the 19 Madras regiment. That was only the latest in a growing number of avalanches on the world’s highest battlefield that has forced the Army to review its deployment pattern there.
  • The Army is looking at the location of several vulnerable posts.
  • Climate change has accelerated the rate of snowmelt, which in turn is causing a rise in rate of avalanches on glacier, which are occurring frequently at new places.
  • Within 24 hours of the tragedy at Sonam, rescue equipment — including snow penetrating radars, see-through radars and ice cutters — were deployed at the site. Now they are part of the sector stores equipment at the base camp, and additional rescue equipment is being issued to the soldiers.
  • Due to rising temperature there is increased snowfall, which however, does not harden, leading to a rise in frequency of avalanches and opening up of crevices. This is affecting the induction and de-induction of troops on the glacier.
  • The Army plans its movement on the glacier on the basis of the daily weather bulletins issued by the Chandigarh-based Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment (SASE), an institute under the Defence Research Organisation.
  • The impact of global warming is also visible in Ladakh region where glaciers are primary source of water. But increase in glacial melt is frequently causing floods.
  • Avalanches are being seen in the Rimo glacier in Eastern Ladakh as well.
  • India has been holding the dominating heights on Siachen glacier since it occupied them in 1984 under Operation Meghdoot. More soldiers have died due to weather related factors than enemy fire.