Karachi, Pakistan: Karachi, Pakistan: In an effort to expand its glacier monitoring network in higher Himalayas to assess climate change impacts in a better way, Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) set up an automatic weather monitoring station, the highest for the country at 4,500 metres above the mean sea level with an estimated cost of USD 20,000. According to a report published in SciDev.net, the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) helped PMD in setting up the station. It also provided GIS and other equipment to monitor Passu glacier.
“Pakistan’s glacial area covers around 15,000 square kilometres, which are in rapid retreat. The rate of glacial recession, which has gone up by 23 percent in the previous decade, is faster than in any other part of the world,” said Pakistan’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Abdullah Hussain Haroon.
The new station will help gather data on temperature, humidity, precipitation, pressure, solar radiation and wind speed and direction, according to PMD Director General Arif Mahmood. It will help compare glacier melt in the Hindu Kush–Himalayan range, and changes in seasonal snowfall accumulation.
The station, located between the Passu and Batura glaciers, will add to data gathered from a monitoring station at 3,200 metres set up in 2010 by PMD at the lower end of the Passu glacier.
Pakistan has so far relied on images from Chinese and Japanese remote sensing satellites to study glaciers. Though satellites offer information of inaccessible terrain, their data sometimes do not match ground observations. The new weather monitoring system would help real time measurements from the ground.
ICIMOD’s regional programme coordinator in Pakistan, Chaudhry Inayatullah, said the institute would help Pakistan “fill the technological gap for assessing glaciers, their melting rates and build technical capacity and know-how for monitoring snow, ice, and water resources”.