Posts Tagged "pakistan"

Glacier Melt Threatens Medicinal Plants in Pakistan

Posted by on Dec 1, 2016 in All Posts, Featured Posts, News, Policy and Economics, Science | 0 comments

Glacier Melt Threatens Medicinal Plants in Pakistan

Spread the News:ShareLack of access to health facilities is a massive problem facing developing countries. Zaheer Abbas et al. recently published a paper on the Karakoram Range in Northern Pakistan in which the communities have been relying on traditional methods for treating common physical ailments. Like many remote communities without access to modern health care, the Balti community have honed their traditional knowledge of local plants over the centuries using herbal treatments readily available to them in the Karakoram range. However, traditional knowledge is not well recorded in the region because medicinal plant concoctions are only passed down orally. This knowledge, if documented and shared, could inform other non-traditional medicine, according to Abbas et al. However, as R. Jilani et al. describe in another paper, if glaciers in Northern Pakistan start to melt, the reduction in the water resources could greatly affect the plants grown in the region, threatening the future use of Balti knowledge. The Karakoram Range, a large mountain range that spans across Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, India, and Tajikistan, is one of the most glaciated areas outside of the polar regions and also one of the most botanically diverse. The range is home to the Biafo Glacier, which is the third largest glacier in the Karakoram and the fourth largest in Asia. For now, as Abbas et al. explain, the glaciers in the Karakoram Range are stable and not experiencing glacier melt like other regions. This is due to the very high altitude of the glaciers and the fact that temperatures remain cold throughout the year. However, a paper by Rajiv Chaturvedi et al. explains that in climate scenarios where carbon emissions continue to increase, we can expect melting of the Karakoram glaciers to occur at a rapid rate. The region and its glaciers have not previously been studied in depth due to the area’s remoteness, high altitude and harsh climate. Adding additional complications to future research is the fact that there is no weather station in the region, so temperature readings typically come from Skardu, 55 km away. This raises questions about the future impact of climate on the use of medicinal plants and traditional Balti knowledge. For their Karakoram study, Abbas et al. interviewed 69 inhabitants of the region, including five herbalists, in order to understand how regional plants are used by the local communities for medicinal purposes. As Abbas et al. explain, many modern drug discoveries have been based on medicinal plants used by indigenous people. For this study, the team explored a total of 63 plant species, and with the help of the Balti people, categorized the plants into uses for 11 common diseases and disorders. They also looked at  how effective the plants were at resolving those particular health issues based on a scale of 1 to 5 (5 being most effective). The common health issues ranged from anything from a common toothache to kidney stones. The study also showed the diversity of the plant parts used in the remedy, including flowers, seeds, leaves, and in some cases, the entire plant. The majority of the species studied were indigenous to the Tormik Valley due to its microclimate. The Tormik Valley is lush and fed by freshwater streams and springs. Of the 63 species examined, three of them were particularly valuable due to their effectiveness, and each scored a 4 or 5 on the scale. Thymus linearis (a shrub with small dark purple blooms), commonly known as Himalayan thyme or common thyme and belonging to the Mint family, is used by the Balti people to treat abdominal pain and vomiting. Hippophae rhamnoides, commonly known...

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Roundup: River Outlets, Plant Habitats, and Village Partners

Posted by on Oct 10, 2016 in All Posts, Featured Posts, Roundup | 0 comments

Roundup: River Outlets, Plant Habitats, and Village Partners

Spread the News:ShareRoundup: Canadian River Vanishes, Plants in the Himalayas and Pakistan’s Villages Glacier retreat in Canada causes Yukon river to vanish. From CBCNews: “It’s been the main source of water into Yukon’s Kluane Lake for centuries, but now the Slims River has suddenly slimmed down — to nothing. ‘What folks have noticed this spring is that it’s essentially dried up,” said Jeff Bond of the Yukon Geological Survey. ‘That’s the first time that’s happened, as far as we know, in the last 350 years.’ What’s happened is some basic glacier hydrology, Bond says — essentially, the Kaskawulsh Glacier has retreated to the point where its melt water is now going in a completely different direction, away from the Slims Valley. Instead of flowing north 19 kilometres from the glacier’s toe into Kluane Lake (and ultimately, the Bering Sea), that melt water is now draining eastward via the Kaskawulsh River towards the Pacific Ocean off the Alaska panhandle. It’s a reminder that glacier-caused change is not always glacial-paced.” Read more about the effects of glacier retreat on the Slims River here:   The world’s highest vascular plants found in Indian Himalayas. From Microbial Ecology: “Upward migration of plants to barren [just below the snowl areas is occurring worldwide due to raising ambient temperatures and glacial recession. In summer 2012, the presence of six vascular plants, growing in a single patch, was recorded at an unprecedented elevation of 6150 m.a.s.l. close to the summit of Mount Shukule II in the Western Himalayas (Ladakh, India). Whilst showing multiple signs of stress, all plants have managed to establish stable growth and persist for several years.” Learn more about the role of microbes in the process of plant upward migration here.   Local struggles in Pakistan show adaptations to glacier thinning. From Erdkunde: “Framing adaptation as a process of assemblage-building of heterogeneous human and non-human [actors], two village case studies are investigated where glacier thinning has dried up a source of irrigation water, turning cropland into desert. While in the first case case, villagers were able to construct a new and extraordinary water supply scheme with the help of external development agencies, in the second case, several approaches to utilize alternative water sources over three decades were unsuccessful. An account of the adaptation assemblages shows how a diversity of actants such as individual leaders, community, external agencies, construction materials, landslides and geomorphological features play variable and contingent roles in the success or failure of adaptation efforts, thus co-defining their outcome in complex ways.” Learn more about the adaption efforts to glacier thinning in northern Pakistan here. Spread the...

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Roundup: Pakistan’s Glaciers, Jobless Sherpas, Ancient Rivers

Posted by on Aug 15, 2016 in All Posts, Featured Posts, News, Roundup | 0 comments

Roundup: Pakistan’s Glaciers, Jobless Sherpas, Ancient Rivers

Spread the News:ShareThis Week’s Roundup: Pakistan has more glaciers than almost anywhere on Earth. But they are at risk. From The Washington Post: “For generations, the glacier clinging to Miragram Mountain, a peak that towers above the village, has served as a reservoir for locals and powered myriad streams throughout Pakistan’s scenic Chitral Valley. Now, though, the villagers say that their glacier — and their way of life — is in retreat…. With 7,253 known glaciers, including 543 in the Chitral Valley, there is more glacial ice in Pakistan than anywhere on Earth outside the polar regions, according to various studies. Those glaciers feed rivers that account for about 75 percent of the stored-water supply in the country of at least 180 million. But as in many other parts of the world, researchers say, Pakistan’s glaciers are receding, especially those at lower elevations, including here in the Hindu Kush mountain range in northern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Among the causes cited by scientists: diminished snowfall, higher temperatures, heavier summer rainstorms and rampant deforestation.” Read the full story here.   Sherpas Denied Summit Certificates From The Himalayan Times: “The Department of Tourism, under the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, has refused to award high-altitude workers summit certificates, citing a clause of the Mountaineering Expedition Regulation that bars them from obtaining government certificates…. He said DoT couldn’t issue certificates to Sherpas as per the existing law, claiming that high-altitude workers are not considered a part of the expedition as per the Mountaineering Expedition Regulation that was framed in 2002. ‘The regulation considers only those who obtain climbing permit by paying royalty to the government as members of an expedition’ [Laxman Sharma, Director at DoT’s Mountaineering Section, told THT]. This is the first time in the country’s mountaineering history that Sherpas have failed to obtain government certificates despite successfully scaling mountains.” Read the full article here.   Ancient Rivers Beneath Greenland Glacier From Live Science: “A network of ancient rivers lies frozen in time beneath one of Greenland’s largest glaciers, new research reveals. The subglacial river network, which threads through much of Greenland’s landmass and looks, from above, like the tiny nerve fibers radiating from a brain cell, may have influenced the fast-moving Jakobshavn Isbrae glacier over the past few million years. ‘The channels seem to be instrumental in controlling the location and form of the Jakobshavn ice stream — and seem to show a clear influence on the onset of fast flow in this region,’ study co-author Michael Cooper, a doctoral candidate in geography at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom, told Live Science. ‘Without the channels present underneath, the glacier may not exist in its current location or orientation.” Full story continued here. Spread the...

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Roundup: Gains and Losses in Glacial Economies

Posted by on Jul 4, 2016 in All Posts, Featured Posts, Roundup | 0 comments

Roundup: Gains and Losses in Glacial Economies

Spread the News:ShareEach week, we highlight three stories from the forefront of glacier news. Why Are People Stealing and Selling Glaciers? From CARE2: A recent report describes a region in Asia in which people travel up to a glacier and remove ice blocks from it. The report states “Along the Chitral River in Pakistan, some locals are stealing and selling the glaciers that are melting in their backyard. Residents of the small town Chitral are not necessarily taking the glaciers because they want to — but rather as a matter of surviving dire energy and water shortages.” To learn more about the region’s energy and water crisis, click here.   Glaciers’ monitoring: Germany approves €6 million grant From The Express Tribune: “Germany has approved a grant of six million euros to monitor over 5,000 melting glaciers in Pakistan. The German government through its KfW Development Bank will provide the amount to the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) for a project ‘Glacial monitoring for energy and water security in Pakistan’ for telemetric equipment in lower stretches of glaciated areas.” Learn more about the grant and proposed project here.   Greenland’s wooden Icefjord Center will offer sweeping views of the glacial landscape From INHABITAT: “The Icefjord Center is an undulating wooden structure designed to offer spectacular views of a famous glacier in Greenland’s Sermermiut Valley. Conceived by Danish studio Dorte Mandrup Arkitekter, the building bridges the landscape while replicating the feeling of hiking across a fjord. When it opens, the center will provide space for residents, researchers and tourists to learn about climate change.” See more breathtaking photos of the Center and learn about its construction here. Spread the...

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Photo Friday: Studying Microbes on Glacier

Posted by on Jun 3, 2016 in Featured Posts, Images, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Photo Friday: Studying Microbes on Glacier

Spread the News:ShareAny avid hiker or mountaineer would agree life as a scientist studying microbes on glaciers is not too bad. Just look the business trips they get to make. Italian scientists Dr. Andrea Franzetti, environmental microbiologist, and his colleague Dr. Roberto Ambrosini, ecologist, took a trip to Baltoro Glacier in Pakistan to collect data and bacteria samples for their latest work on supraglacial microbes. Temporary office (base camp) on Baltoro Glacier, Pakistan with Gasherbrum I in the background. K2, second highest mountain in the world, shot from Baltoro Glacier. Dr. Roberto Ambrosini taking measurements in cryoconite hole on Baltoro Glacier with Mitre Peak in the background. Checking instrumentation on Baltoro Glacier Spread the...

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