Every year, as the weather warms, teams of Indian scientists trek the Himalayan mountains to study the Chhota Shigri glacier in India’s northern state of Himachal Pradesh. For the past decade and a half, they’ve recorded the extent of snow cover, checked the temperature of the air and soil, observed the surface of ice formations and measured the discharge from seasonal snowmelt that feeds the river valleys below.
This year, record-breaking glacial melt washed the discharge measuring station clean away.
"We had installed it in June and by August we couldn't even find the remnants,” said Mohd Farooq Azam, a glaciologist at the Indian Institute of Technology in Indore. "We had an intense heat wave in early summer when temperatures in March and April broke 100-year records. And we have had resulting glacial melt. Our team was on a glacier ... and we have seen record-breaking melt in the Himalayas.”