Glacial Lake Atlas of Ganga River Basin


    In News

    Recently, Glacial Lake Atlas of Ganga Basin was released in a virtual event.

    About the Report

    • The atlas is based on the inventoried glacial lakes in part of the Ganga River basin from its origin to the foothills of the Himalayas covering a catchment area of 2,47,109 sq. km.
    • The study portion of the Ganga River basin covers part of India and the transboundary region.

    Major Highlights

    • The present atlas is the first of its kind depicting the spatial distribution of glacial lakes of size ≥ 0.25 ha in the Ganga River basin mapped using high-resolution satellite data
    • The atlas provides the details of all the glacial lakes in the entire catchment of the Ganga River basin, both within the Indian and transboundary region
    • The atlas contains details of area range-wise glacial lakes along with 9 categories of types. Further, the atlas presents the distribution of glacial lakes in terms of area vs. type, elevation, area vs. elevation and type vs. elevation, at the basin, subbasin, administrative and transboundary regions
    • The atlas also provides a comprehensive list of all glacial lakes with unique ID considering hydrological, geometrical, geographical, topographical attribute information.


    • The possible uses of the Glacial Lake Atlas for the water resources professionals, researchers, disaster management authorities and other stakeholders
      • for managing the glacial lakes
      • to mitigate the possible adverse impacts of Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOF) and climate change.
    • In the context of climate change impact analysis, the atlas can be used as reference data for carrying out change analysis, both with respect to historical and future time periods
    • The atlas also provides authentic database for regular or periodic monitoring changes in spatial extent (expansion/shrinkage) and formation of new lakes
    • The atlas can also be used in conjunction with glacier information for their retreat and climate impact studies.
    • The information on glacial lakes like their type, hydrological, topographical, and associated glaciers are useful in identifying the potential critical glacial lakes and consequent GLOF risk.
    • Central and State Disaster Management Authorities can make use of the atlas for disaster mitigation planning and related programs.


    • This initiative under National Hydrology Project (NHP) is a step forward for facilitating the acquisition of reliable information and putting the same in the public domain.
    • It would pave the way for effective water resource development and management.

    National Hydrology Project (NHP)

    • It is a Central Sector scheme sponsored by the Ministry of Jal Shakti, Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Govt. of India.
    • Financial aid from the World Bank.
    • The objective of the project is:
      • to improve the extent and accessibility of water resources information and
      • strengthen institutional capacity to enable improved water resources planning and management across India.
    • The project comprises four broad components:
      • Improving In Situ Monitoring System (IMS)–
        • To expand and upgrade water resources monitoring systems, bolster database population and maintenance, develop community-based data collection and water management, and conduct site-specific surveys to the states in the Indus, Ganges and Brahmaputra Basins and in North-East India.
      • Improving Spatial Information System (SIS) –
        • To strengthen and make available remote sensing and spatial information data to water managers and stakeholders through providing and processing of spatial data sets, creating tools for tailor-made processing of spatial data, and developing web-based portals for public access to information.
      • Promoting Water Resources Operation and Management Applications (WROMA) –
        • To ensure the usefulness of the WRMS and WRIS data sets through decision support systems (DSS) for river basin planning, water balance assessments, climate risk assessments, water quality management, scenario analysis for investment planning, and tools for community-based water management.
        • It will develop short-term and seasonal flow forecasts, establish multiple flood/flow forecasting systems important for the operation of reservoirs and flood management, and introduce on pilot basis operation and water distribution systems for irrigation systems.
      • Strengthening Water Resources Institutions and Capacity Building (WRICB):
        • To strengthen and build capacity in the participating Implementing Agencies (Water Resources Institutions) through establishing Water Resources Knowledge Centers and providing infrastructure and communication equipment, capacity building and extensive training programs, supporting project management through Technical Assistance and Management Consultancies, and funding of incremental staff. In particular, the project will support the establishment of a National Water Information Center (upgraded version of India-WRIS) and Centers of Excellence at national and state levels.

    Glacial Lake

    • A glacial lake is a body of water with origins from glacier activity.
    • They are formed when a glacier erodes the land, and then melts, filling the depression created by the glacier.

    Sources: PIB