Gaumukh - source of the Ganges

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Photo of Gaumukh - source of the Ganges

Gaumukh

 Uttarakhand India
N 30° 55′ 36.0876″ W 79° 4′ 47.3736″
Photographed in November 1996
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Gaumukh - the "cow's mouth." The Bhagirathi River - principal source of the River Ganga - issues from the snout of the Gangotri Glacier. Gaumukh is a popular destination for tourists and pilgrims, who visit in great numbers every near. Gangotri is one of the largest glaciers in the Himalaya. Like glaciers all over the world, it is shrinking. Over the last 25 years, the Gangotri glacier has retreated more than 850 meters, with a recession of 76 meters from 1996 to 1999. The exact history of the glacier's retreat seems to be a matter of dispute, depending as it does on the interpretation of data gathered many decades ago. According to one study, the glacier retreated at an average rate of 26.5 metres per year over the period 1935–71 and then retreated at a steady but lower rate of 17.15 metres per year over the period 1971–2004. Other scientists have suggested that the retreat actually speeded up after 1971. This is is in any case only part of the story - the relationship between the rate of linear retreat and the rate of ice loss (by mass or volume) will naturally change as the glacier snout recedes and changes shape. Data on the changing position of the glacier snout is profuse, but data on the rate of ice loss seems scarce. More about Gaumukh in Mountain Spirits