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Tso Moriri

Tso Moriri or Lake Moriri (Tibetan: ལྷ་མོའི་བླ་མཚོ, Wylie: lha mo bla mtsho) or "Mountain Lake", is a lake in the Ladakhi part of the Changthang Plateau (literally: northern plains) in Jammu and Kashmir in northern India. The lake and surrounding area are protected as the Tso Moriri Wetland Conservation Reserve.

Tso Moriri Karakoram-West Tibetan Plateau alpine steppe.jpg Location Ladakh Coordinates 32°54′N 78°18′E Type brackish Primary inflows Snow Melt in summer Primary outflows none [1] Basin countries India Max. length 19 km (12 mi) Max. width 3 km (1.9 mi) Surface area 12,000 ha (30,000 acres) Max. depth 105 m (344 ft)[2] Surface elevation 4,522 m (14,836 ft) Settlements Korzok Ramsar Wetland Designated 19 August 2002 The lake is at an altitude of 4,522 m (14,836 ft). It is the largest of the high altitude lakes entirely within India and entirely within Ladakh in this Trans-Himalayan biogeographic region. It is about 16 miles (26 km) north to south in length and two to three miles (3 to 5 km) wide. The lake has no outlet at present and the water is brackish though not very perceptible to taste.

The lake is fed by springs and snow-melt from neighboring mountains. Most water enters the lake in two major stream systems, one entering the lake from the north, the other from the southwest. Both stream systems include extensive marshes where they enter the lake. It formerly had an outlet to the south, but this has become blocked and the lake has become a endorheic lake. The lake is oligotrophic in nature, and its waters are alkaline.

Accessibility to the lake is largely limited to summer season, though Karzok on the northwest shore and the military facilities on the eastern shores have year-round habitation.



Topography


As per a classification of the Himalayan Lakes done on the basis of their origin, there are four groups and Tso Moriri falls under the third group of “remnant lakes". The classification as reported states:

(i) Glacial lakes which are formed in and around glaciers;
(ii) Structural lakes, formed by folds or faults due to movements in earth’s crust (e.g. Nainital lake in Uttarakhand),
(iii) Remnant lakes which were originally structural but represent the remnants of vast lakes (e.g., Tso Moriri, Tso Kar, Pangong Tso in Ladakh, and Dal Lake in Kashmir),
(iv) Natural dammed lakes i.e., temporary water bodies formed along the river courses due to deposition of rocks or debris e.g. Gohna Tal in Garhwal, Uttarakhand.

The Changthang Plateau in the eastern Ladakh represents a landscape of low productive ecosystems which protects unique floral and faunal species. The area is an extension of the western Tibetan plateau that lies above 4,500 m (14,800 ft) msl and supports diverse but low populations of several globally threatened mammals. The lake's basin could also be categorised as an basin since it is a closed drainage basin that retains water and allows no outflow to other bodies of water such as rivers or oceans. The lake is 20 to 50 kilometers southeast of the elevated valley of the core Rupshu Valley and falls within the greater Rupshu Plateau and valley area. The lake is ringed by hills rising over 6,000 m (20,000 ft). “Changpas", the nomadic migratory shepherds (pastoral community) of yak, sheep, goat, and horses of Tibetan origin and who are engaged in trade and work on caravans in Ladakh region, are the main inhabitants of the area. Changpa (Champa) herders use the land of this valley as grazing ground and for cultivation.

The Working Report (2006) of the Planning Commission of the Government of India also reports: Despite a poor vegetation cover, relatively low standing biomass and high anthropogenic pressure, this area sustains a considerably high livestock population. Steady increase in the livestock population in the area is mainly attributed to influx of nomadic herders from Tibet during recent decades and promotion of Pashmina goat production by the Animal Husbandry Department (AHD) for fine quality under wool (Pashmina). The herders and AHD officials, in recent years have begun to raise concern over degradation of pastures, resultant shortage of forage, and mass mortality of livestock during severe winters.

The Korzok Monastery, on the western bank of the lake is 400 years old and attracts tourists and Buddhist pilgrims. Tourism during May – September attracts large number of foreign and local tourists even though tented accommodation is the facility available, apart from a small PWD guest house close to the Lake. Northeast of Tso Moriri is a small lake which is known locally as Lake of Joy.

  
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