Saturday, 13 October 2007

The Ganges....

Mark crossed the mighty river Ganges today. ...The bridge he crossed by was just a few kms north of this view but as it is in an area of low resolution Google Maps imagery, I've used a bit of geographic licence to get a better impression of the river.

It is important to get a sense of scale. The river and its silt banks measure about a mile across. In the monsoon season, from July through until September, which also coincides with the summer melt of snow and glacial ice at the Himalayan source of the river, the river will occupy the whole of its channel and may well spill out onto the floodplain. Whatever the season, it provides an invaluable source of water to support agriculture on the Ganges plain. Since one twelfth of the world's population lives within the Ganges basin, the importance of the river cannot be overemphasised.It is alarming, therefore, when you research the Ganges, to find that much of the new 'literature' on the Internet is speaking of threats to the river from global warming. It seems that the glaciers which are the source of the river are retreating rapidly at present. This is, of course, a story which is being repeated elsewhere in the world with similar implications for populations which depend on glacier fed rivers e.g. in the Andes but nowhere else are the numbers of people so great.

Most sources quote the Himalayan Gangotri glacier at Gaumukh, close to the Tibetan border, as the birthplace of the Ganges and a search on Google Earth produces some nice images...

A 'hotspot' on Google Earth even reveals an image of the glacier 'snout' from which the infant Ganges emerges... It is 1500 miles from here to the Ganges delta on the Bay of Bengal - nothing, of course, compared to the distances which Mark is covering!!

No comments: