Posts Tagged "himalayas"

Asia’s High Glaciers Protect Communities from Drought

Posted by on Jun 13, 2017 in All Posts, Featured Posts, Science | 0 comments

Asia’s High Glaciers Protect Communities from Drought

Spread the News:ShareA recent study in Nature by Hamish Pritchard, a glaciologist at Cambridge University and researcher for the British Antarctic Survey, shows that the high mountains of Asia, including the Himalayas, the Hindu Kush, and Karakoram, are being greatly affected by global warming. In some areas of the Himalayan region, for example, temperatures have risen faster than the global average. From 1982 to 2006, the average annual mean temperature in the region increased by 1.5 °C, with an average increase of .06 °C per year, according to UNEP. Even though studies on the high mountains of Asia are incomplete, it is believed that the mountains will lose half of their ice in the next 30 years. This glacial loss has consequences for Asia as the glaciers provide an important ecosystem service to 800 million people by acting as a regional buffer against drought and providing summer meltwater to rivers and aquifers. If the glaciers in the eastern and central Himalayas disappear by 2035, the ecosystem service protecting against drought would be lost. Despite the fact that glaciers can promote drought resiliency, the surrounding areas would be particularly vulnerable to water scarcity because the glaciers will not supply enough meltwater to maintain the rivers and streams at adequate levels. Lack of water could lead to devastating food shortages and malnutrition, further impacting the economy and public health. Based on a projected estimate of glacier area in 2050, it is thought that declining water availability will eventually threaten some 70 million people with food insecurity. Droughts in the Himalayan region have already resulted in more than 6 million deaths over the past century. Glacier loss would only add to drought-related water stress in the region, impacting a surrounding 136 million people. In an interview with GlacierHub, Pritchard explained, “Without these glaciers, particularly in the Indus and Aral, droughts would be substantially worse in summer than they are now, and that could be enough to drive conflict and migration, which becomes a regional and potentially global issue. It could result in social instability, conflict, and migrations of populations.” According to Pritchard’s research, the high mountains of Asia supply 23 cubic kilometers of water downstream every summer. If the glaciers were to vanish, the amount of water during the summer would decrease by 38 percent in the upper Indus basin on average and up to 58 percent in drought conditions. The loss of summer meltwater would have its greatest effects on the municipal and industrial needs of Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, with water stress being classified as medium to extremely high. For example, the Indus River, which has one of the world’s largest irrigation networks, is Pakistan’s primary source of freshwater. About 90 percent of Pakistan’s agriculture depends on the river and much of the world’s cotton comes from the Indus River Valley. Additionally, decreased meltwater would further affect upstream countries such as Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Nepal that rely on hydropower. The Toktogul hydropower plant and four smaller plants downstream produce almost 80 percent of Kyrgyzstan’s electricity. Pritchard presents data that show how much the glacier meltwater contributes to different regions within Asia during drought. Some areas, such as the Aral Sea, rely exclusively on the glacier water during the drought months. The glaciers provide meltwater when rainfall is minimal or nonexistent under drought conditions because glaciers store precipitation for decades to centuries as ice, which then flows to lower altitudes when melting in the summer. Twila Moon, a postdoctoral research associate at the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Boulder, Colorado, recently discussed the consequences of global...

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Roundup: Brown Haze, A Glacier Song, and Adventure Sixty North

Posted by on May 1, 2017 in All Posts, Featured Posts, News, Roundup | 0 comments

Roundup: Brown Haze, A Glacier Song, and Adventure Sixty North

Spread the News:ShareRoundup: A Video, A Glacier Song and Pollution Glacier Retreat from Rick Brown’s Perspective From Vimeo: In the video “Glacier Exit” by Raphael Rogers, Rick Brown, owner of Adventure Sixty North, takes viewers on a glacier ice hike. Rick has been guiding tours in Seward, Alaska, since the early 1990s. On this particular tour, Rick points out areas where the glaciers have been retreating at a rate of 150 feet per year. This retreat, which used to take hundreds of years, now only takes a year or two and is resulting in visible wildlife changes. The video quotes Lord Byron – “I love not Man the less, but Nature more.” Watch the stunning video “Glacier Exit” here.   Brown Haze Particles Over the Himalayas From Atmospheric Environment: “The Tibetan Plateau is one of the largest plateaus in the world. Its glaciers are a major source of rivers like the Indus, the Ganges and the Yangtze. Yet, the rapid pace of urbanization and industrialization along the elevated site of the Himalayas have subsequently increased the burden of atmospheric pollution (which has adversely affected the Himalayan glaciers and hence the climate system). Brown haze can consist of soot, fly ash, organic particles and various salts. Its deposition on Tibetan glaciers is an important factor responsible for rapid glacier retreat and thermal heating.” Read more about brown haze and its implications here.   Electronic Musician GLOKMIN’s New Song “Glacier” From Twitter: “Glacier” is the title of the new single by the electronic musician GLOKMIN. He is a 21-year old artist from Alexandria, Virginia, and he performs in Washington D.C. From his song, you can hear some glacier/ambient sounds coupled with lyrics such as “your heart’s a melting glacier.” The song begins with the sound of a glacier cracking and falling onto the ground below. Listen to the full song and others by this artist here.   Spread the...

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Elderly Wisdom and Youth Action in Ladakh

Posted by on Apr 26, 2017 in All Posts, Communities, Featured Posts | 0 comments

Elderly Wisdom and Youth Action in Ladakh

Spread the News:SharePeople of Indo-Aryan and Tibetan descent live in one of the highest locations in the world, the Ladakh region of northwestern India. Ladakh extends over 45,000 square miles and includes the Ladakh mountain range, which is part of the glaciated Karakoram Range of south-central Asia. Many in the Ladakh region are Buddhist and believe in good moral conduct such as generosity, righteousness and meditation. This goodwill extends to the glaciers, which they respect and value. The Global Workshop, a project that allows students to create original work that thinks critically about science and development, recently created a video in which young people from Ladakh interview their elders about climate change and its impacts on the glaciers. In the video, the grandparents remember a time during the mid-20th century when streams were full, glaciers were more robust, and snowfall was heavy. Now, farms in the agricultural areas are suffering because of a decrease in glacier meltwater for crop production. “Himalayan Elders on Climate Change” (Source: The Global Workshop/YouTube). In a paper titled “Glaciers and Society,” Karine Gagné, a postdoctoral associate of cultural anthropology at Yale University, and her colleagues, discuss some of the approaches used by locals to counter the impacts of receding glaciers. Gagné spent a fair amount of time working in Ladakh observing everyday life and climatic changes. She told GlacierHub that in certain communities in the region, people depend on specific glaciers, have named them accordingly, and undertake specific actions to protect them. In the paper, Gagné et al. discuss Chewang Norphel, a retired civil engineer in Ladakh who created artificial glaciers to harvest snowmelt and rainwater. Norphel’s project brought attention to the plight of farmers who use meltwater for agriculture. It has since been replicated by the younger generation.   Still, receding glaciers have translated into water scarcity in some Ladakhi villages. Water is a pressing issue because villagers rely on snowfall in the spring to sow their crops. Elders have prayed to mountain deities that their glaciers will provide water in the spring.  Gagné explained that glaciers are “embedded in the local culture and religious views.” People believe, for example, that there is a guardian deity that inhabits the surrounding glaciers and that one’s actions can reflect in the condition of the natural environment. If one behaves unethically, it could lead to less meltwater than is necessary for growing crops that year. Using the information provided by their elders, the youth interviewers from The Global Workshop are documenting the changes in their environment and their elder’s responses. Their interviews will help to fill gaps in environmental data extending to the 1950s in an effort to better understand changes in the local water systems and health of the glaciers.  Many of the youth attend schools like the Students’ Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh (SECMOL) environmental school. Founded by education reformist and engineer Sonam Wangchuk, SECMOL works on renewable energy and climate change preparedness with the youth from Ladakh. The campus is a student-run, solar-powered eco-village, where students live among staff and volunteers. The Global Workshop’s video shows the importance of passing down generational knowledge, demonstrating how helpful it can be for youth involvement, community building, and environmental data collection. If you are still curious about Ladakh, see GlacierHub’s recent piece on climate change adaptation to learn more about other efforts in the region.   Spread the...

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Roundup: Chemistry, Dams and Elevations

Posted by on Feb 13, 2017 in All Posts, Featured Posts, Roundup | 0 comments

Roundup: Chemistry, Dams and Elevations

Spread the News:ShareRoundup: Meltwater Chemistry, Hydroelectric Dams and Glacier Elevation   Diurnal Changes in the Chemistry of Glacier Meltwater From Chemosphere: “An evaluation of glacial meltwater chemistry is needed under recent dramatic glacier melting when water resources might be significantly impacted. This study investigated trace elements variation in the meltwater stream, and its related aquatic environmental information, at the Laohugou glacier basin (4260 m a.s.l.) at a remote location in northeast Tibetan Plateau… Results showed evident elements spatial difference on the glacier surface meltwater, as most of the elements showed increased concentration at the terminus compared to higher elevations sites… The accelerated diurnal and temporal snow-ice melting (with high runoff level) were correlated to increased elemental concentration, pH, EF (enrichment factor,the minimum factor by which the weight percent of mineral in is greater than the average occurrence of that mineral in the Earth’s crust) and elemental change mode, and thus this work is of great importance for evaluating the impacts of accelerated glacier melting to meltwater chemistry and downstream ecosystem in the northeast Tibetan Plateau.” Read more about it here.   Locals Oppose Dam Construction in the North Western Himalayas From the International Journal of Interdisciplinary and Multidisciplinary Studies: “Since early 1970s dam development projects witnessed severe opposition in India. The remote tribal groups and rural population rejected the idea of large scale displacement, land alienation, economic insecurity and endless suffering that came along with ‘development’ projects… In recent past the construction of hydroelectricity projects has faced severe opposition in the tribal regions in Himachal Pradesh. The locals in Kinnaur are facing numerous socio-economic and environmental consequences of these constructions in fragile Himalayan ecology… More than 30 hydro projects proposed in Lahaul & Spiti are also being challenged by the people in Chenab valley… The paper summarises the ongoing struggle and diverse implications added with climate change in the rural structures.” Read more about local opposition to these projects here.   Uneven Changes in Ice Sheet Elevation in West Antarctica From Geophysical Research Letters: “We combine measurements acquired by five satellite altimeter missions to obtain an uninterrupted record of ice sheet elevation change over the Amundsen Sea Embayment, West Antarctica, since 1992… Surface lowering has spread slowest (<6 km/yr) along the Pope, Smith, and Kohler (PSK) Glaciers, due to their small extent. Pine Island Glacier (PIG) is characterized by a continuous inland spreading of surface lowering, notably fast at rates of 13 to 15 km/yr along tributaries draining the southeastern lobe, possibly due to basal conditions or tributary geometry… Ice-dynamical imbalance across the sector has therefore been uneven during the satellite record.” Read more about the changes in ice sheet elevation here. Spread the...

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Photo Friday: Pakistan’s Mountain Region

Posted by on Dec 16, 2016 in All Posts, Featured Posts, Images | 0 comments

Photo Friday: Pakistan’s Mountain Region

Spread the News:ShareWith a diverse landscape, northern Pakistan is home to some of the Earth’s highest peaks. The high altitude combined with the Asian monsoon have historically provided glaciers in the region with the necessary conditions to thrive, according to National Environment Agency. Despite their intimidating nature, the Himalayas have an extensive amount of biodiversity. “Climates range from tropical at the base of the mountains to perennial snow and ice at the highest elevations,” according to PBS. Check out GlacierHub’s collection of images from the glacier-rich mountain region of Pakistan. You can find additional images of Pakistan’s mountains at Pamir Times.                   Spread the...

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