Thursday, 16 July 2015

Geography of Northern Pakistan

  The Northern Areas of Pakistan is the meeting point of four of the world’s great mountain chain, the Karakorum, Hindu Kush, Himalaya and Pamir contains the largest concentration of high peaks in the world, and is home to the largest glaciers outside of the Polar region. The region consists largely of the Island of Kohistan Arc, mass of displaced metamorphosed, sedimentary rocks, wedged between the Eurasian and Indian plates. Two great sheer lines run the region; the North suture separates the Kohistan Island from the Hindu Kush and Karakorum ranges to the East and North, and the main mantle Thrust which separates Kohistan from the Himalayas and Indian plates to the South and SE. The pivotal point in the Pamir Knot an enormous tangle of high mountains and Plateau in the North straddling Pakistan, Afghanistan, the former Soviet Central Asian states and China. The major mountain ranges, Alai, Himalaya, Hindu Kush, Karakorum, Tian Shan, Kunkun, and Pamir run from this central feature, bifurcating into numerous sub ranges.
  Although the details of the valleys and the ranges of the work of glacial actions, weathering and erosion, the formation as whole are primarily the result of recent up –lift. The interaction of these processes result in highly unstable and dynamic landscape, where earthquakes and landslides are frequent.
The Northern Areas has many of the highest peaks, with five over 8000m, 25 over  7,500m, almost 100 over 7,000m and numerous over 6000m. In K2 (8611m), Pakistan can boast a mountain second only to the Everest in height, whilst Nanga Parbat(8126m) the killer mountain surely be acknowledged as the largest solid lumps of rock of anywhere on the earth.
      GLACIERS:  The Karakorum, range contains some of the largest glaciers outside of the polar regions including SiachHin (72km), Biafo(62km), Hispar(61km), Batura(58km), Baltoro(58km) Gashbrum and Chgo Lungma both are 38km and Chiantir glacier in Hindu Khush is 35km  is still not known. Ice covered in the Karakorum is estimated 23-25% as opposed to 8-10% in the Himalaya and 2.2% in the Alps. The region’s glaciers provide both a creative and destructive force being responsible for loss of agricultural land and damage to road networks through encroachment, but also providing the source for irrigation in a region where rain-fed agricultural is not possible.
The dominant river system in the region is Indus, which cuts a deep gorge trending firs E-W the N-S. With rare exceptions, such as Chilas and Skardu, habitation along the Indus river bank has not been possible, with population tending to stick with minor tributary valleys and mountain slopes where river and glacial water is more manageable.                              Numerous other rivers drain the region forming part of the Upper Indus basin, including the Shyoke, Shigar, Astoreru, Gilgit, Hunza, Ghizar, kurumbar, Shimshal and khunjerab.
Other geographical Features:
  There are numerous geographical features in the Northern Areas including numerous passes between valleys, some of which are easily crossed and other which have fearsome reflections and are closed for most of the year such as Karakorum pass. 
The enormous plateau known as the Deosia plain lying W and North West of Skardu, is a spectacular illustration of the effects of glacial actions and environmental change on the landscape.
Climate of North Pakistan:
  Climatically the northern area is the region of extremes. The Temperature fluctuate between the mid to late 40 C in the furnace of the gorge around Chilas down 30 C at the higher altitude. The main valleys such as Gilgit, Hunza and Skembardu generally have annual temperature ranges between 0 C and 30 C. Many parts of the Northern Areas are snow-bound between November and April.
  The Northern Areas are largely outside the monsoon belt and receives only minimal rainfall of about 100mm annually, most of which occurs at high altitude feeding snow-fields and glaciers. The lower sections of the Kaghan valley and Hazara lie on the edge of the SW monsoon and receive upwards of 800mm of rain fall annually. In August the main trekking season rivers are swollen with summer snow-melt and difficult to cross. Spring (April-May) and Autumn(September-October) are particularly beautiful seasons although cold at night.


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