The Himalaya is the largest source of fresh water outside the Polar Regions. It is often described as the ‘Third pole’ or the ‘Water tower of Asia’. Indian Himalaya contains 9,575 glaciers which are spread over nearly 40,000 km2. The Himalayan cryosphere is important as most of the major river systems of Asia originate in the Himalaya and a population of ~1.5 billion is dependent on these rivers for drinking water, hydropower, irrigation, transportation etc.
While the regional and global significance of Himalayan glaciers has long been recognized, there is a paucity of data and information pertaining to different aspects of glaciers and their associated climatological, hydrological, geological and ecological characteristics. Thus, to improve the knowledge base of Himalayan glaciers, the Government of India established a Centre for Glaciology at Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WIHG), Dehradun, Uttarakhand, on 4th July 2009 with the mandate to carry out glaciological research in the country with a holistic approach. In addition, the ‘Centre for Glaciology’ is also responsible for development of infrastructure (field & Lab) and capacity building in the field of glaciology. The Centre will eventually emerge as a “National Center for Himalayan Glaciology”. The Centre for Glaciology got approval from Expenditure and Finance Committee (EFC) on October 20, 2008 and commencement of the activities started from July 2009.
The Centre for Glaciology was inaugurated by the then Hon’ble Minister for Science and Technology and Earth Sciences, Shri Prithviraj Chavan on July 4, 2009 in the benign presence of then Secretary, DST, Dr. T. Ramasami and Joint Secretary, Shri Sanjiv Nair.
The Centre also had the proud privilege of visits by then Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, Shri Montek Singh Ahluwalia and then Hon’ble Minister for Environment and Forest, Shri Jairam Ramesh. These visits have served as stimulants in furthering the pace of glaciological research by opening the gates of collaboration with other institutions.
Presently Centre for Glaciology is being run in the Geomorphology and Environmental Geology division of WIHG.