Chhimi Dema 

Shodug glacier, located in the headwater of Thim chhu near Barshong village in Naro gewog, Thimphu is identified as the new glacier benchmark.

It is an addition to the two benchmark glaciers—Gangju La at the headwater of Phochhu basin, and Thana at the headwater of Chamkharchhu basin.

Benchmark glaciers are identified for long-term glacier monitoring that investigates climate, glacier geometry, glacial mass balance, its dynamics and stream run-off.

The National Centre for Hydrology and Meteorology (NCHM)’s chief and glaciologist, Karma, said that the new identification helps to build confidence while generalising the results for glacier systems in Bhutan.

He said: “The new benchmark glacier represents glaciers residing on the western side of the country.”

The identification is expected to contribute to water resource assessment and study climate change impact on glaciers.

The glacier benchmarks are assessed yearly for their mass balance, areal mapping, thickness, discharge downstream, and snow density.

Karma said that to identify a glacier benchmark, the glacier has to fit some criteria such as its surface area, glacier thickness and depth.

The country has 700 glaciers.

Karma said that more than 100 glaciers were studied for the new identification.

He said that the country’s topography makes it challenging to find an ideal glacier. “Some glaciers surface area is small and some are located in remote areas.”

NCHM team visited Shodug in May after conducting desktop research.

Shodug glacier has a surface area of 1.367 square kilometres and is located at an elevation of 5,168 metres above sea level.

NCHM also carried out the geotechnical assessment of moraine between Thorthomi and Rapstreng lakes.

The preliminary report shows that the ice core, which was found 80 metres under the surface of the moraine dam in 2008, is still intact.

The assessment report will be out this month.