Posts Tagged "tajikistan"

Recent Steps at the Mountain Societies Research Institute

Posted by on Jan 4, 2017 in All Posts, Featured Posts, News, Policy and Economics | 0 comments

Recent Steps at the Mountain Societies Research Institute

Spread the News:ShareParticipants at a meeting held in Kyrgyzstan on 29-30 October 2016 reviewed recent developments of the Mountain Societies Research Institute (MSRI), a unit of the University of Central Asia (UCA). They discussed MSRI’s future directions, focusing on research, education and development programs. The participants included the five members of the MSRI Working Group that provides support and oversight to the Institute, as well as key personnel of the MSRI and senior staff of the UCA. The event built on an earlier meeting in 2015. It was followed by a two-day trip to Naryn province in Kyrgyzstan, with a visit to the first campus of UCA and several environmental facilities. Bohdan Krawchenko, director general and dean of graduate studies at UCA, opened discussions at the meeting, held at UCA offices in the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek. He explained the context of the university, acknowledging the challenges that Central Asia faces, particularly governance issues and the slow economic growth that results from weak commodity prices and a reliance on remittances. He pointed out opportunities to improve productivity and advance technological knowledge by building a new set of higher education institutions attuned to the region’s history and cultures. Krawchenko also emphasized accomplishments. The first UCA campus, in the town of Naryn, Kyrgyzstan, opened in 2016. Its recruitment efforts resulted in a large pool of applicants, from which they selected the top sixth, on a competitive basis. There are 71 students in the first cohort, a number which will increase to 150. The current student body is diverse, with a large number from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan and a good representation from other countries in Central and South Asia. Moreover, 56 percent of the students come from small towns and rural areas, following the UCA’s mission to broaden its base beyond the capital cities and large towns. He noted that the construction and student recruitment at the second campus, in Khorog, Tajikistan, is progressing well, with the opening date set for 2017, ahead of schedule. Work is advancing on a third and final campus, in Tekeli, Kazakhstan, as well. Krawchenko commented on the Institute of Public Policy Administration, another UCA unit broadly parallel to MSRI, which has had successful postgraduate certificate programs and a set of working papers that have attracted attention throughout the region. Diana Pauna, the dean of arts and sciences, presented other developments at UCA. The preparatory program at the Naryn campus has succeeded in bringing the students to a fully international level of quantitative and English-language skills. She spoke about the steps that have been taken in faculty recruitment, potentially a challenge given the location of the campuses in provincial cities. Currently a quarter of the faculty come from North America and Western Europe, another quarter from India, Turkey and China, and half from Central Asia, reflecting the progress of the Central Asia Faculty Development Program. Pauna then focused on the Earth and Environmental Sciences (EES) program, which will be the fourth and final department at UCA, along with economics and business, media and communications, and information technology, each of which offer concrete support to EES. She discussed the steps that have been taken to develop curriculum, providing practical laboratory and field-based experiences that provide strong local content and prepare the students for capstone projects which can lead directly to employment. She emphasized the importance of the program in linking Central Asia’s natural resources with development and sustainable livelihoods, and in addressing issues of climate change, such as glacier retreat. Bernadette Dean, the associate dean at UCA charged with directing undergraduate programs, joined Pauna in exploring the complementarities between...

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Ancient Ecological Calendars Find Way Forward in Pamir Mts.

Posted by on Jul 6, 2016 in Adaptation, All Posts, Communities, Featured Posts, Policy and Economics | 0 comments

Ancient Ecological Calendars Find Way Forward in Pamir Mts.

Spread the News:ShareThe recent influx of climate change induced-changes, including warmer temperatures and melting glaciers, have wreaked havoc on the reliability of timekeeping systems of communities living in the Pamir Mountains in Central Asia. For centuries, the indigenous Pamiri people in Kyrgyzstan, China, Afghanistan and Tajikistan have used ecological calendars to coordinate seasonal activities. The traditional form of tracking time allows them to track seasonal and environmental changes. As environmental shifts, like migratory changes, render these ancient calendar systems unable to accurately keep time, local timekeepers are increasingly unable to rely on calendar cues for agricultural and cultural activities. The Kassam Research Group at Cornell University, along with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Climate CoLab and the Thriving Earth Exchange (TEX) program of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), is partnering with six communities, including the Pamiri, to collaboratively find ways to reconcile and calibrate this traditional timekeeping method with today’s changing climate. The three-year project, which received $1.35 million in funding from the Belmont Forum, began in December of 2015. The ecological calendars at the center of the project link environmental cues, such as the arrival of a particular migratory bird, the last day of snow cover, the breaking of ice on a river, or the first appearance of a particular insect, with corresponding mnemonic body parts, much as many Americans and Europeans count to ten on their fingers, to keep time. Beginning with their toenail, timekeepers track the progression of the seasons by counting correlating body parts up to their head, the arrival of which signals the end of spring. With the first cue of the arrival of summer, counting resumes again. This time, timekeepers count environmental cues down their body. Principal investigator Karim-Aly S. Kassam, a professor of environmental and indigenous studies at Cornell, told GlacierHub in a phone interview that the project is working to restore communities’ capacities to anticipate seasonal changes. “The ability to anticipate time is a very simple concept. It’s done to establish stability, to create anticipatory stability,” Kassam said. By tracking seasonal developments, Kassam says that ecological timekeeping systems lend communities the ability to anticipate agricultural activities and cultural practices. But climate change-induced disruptions of seasonal markers that help the Pamiri communities maintain their routines has made them uneasy, Kassam says. “The pace at which [climate change] is moving and its intensity is creating instability and anxiety,” he explained. Perched between 2,000 and 3,500 meters in elevation, local communities in the Pamir mountains are especially vulnerable to temperature changes, glacial melt, and subsequent water source depletion. Pamiri locals have reported increasing water levels in nearby rivers and lakes, a result of the quickened pace of glacial melt, said Kassam. Changes in temperature and precipitation have forced farmers to replace no longer thriving plants and fruits with alternative crops that are better suited to their changing environment. The project is currently developing a mechanism to retune these ancient calendar systems so that they work with ongoing ecosystem changes. Since its start last December, the project has begun mapping out communities’ seasonal cycles by inviting locals to identify their personal ecological indicators of changes in time. “We invite ornithologists, duck hunters, maple producers, anybody in the local community that can help us map out these discrete processes,” Kassam said. The project’s collaborators plan to hold a day-long discussion with each of the project’s partnering communities, in which project collaborators ask the community questions and later determine what their team can contribute using its scientific and technical backgrounds. Kassam expects the project to result in climate adaptation models for each partnering community. “Our climate models and...

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Climate Awareness Impedes Adaptation

Posted by on Nov 10, 2015 in All Posts, Communities, Featured Posts, News | 3 comments

Climate Awareness Impedes Adaptation

Spread the News:ShareA lack of awareness about the threats posed by climate change in mountain communities in Tajikistan, Central Asia may endanger traditional modes of life and local economies, according to a study published recently in Climatic Change. If these communities do not begin adapting to climate change before temperatures pass the threshold, it will be too late to make a difference, the authors wrote. In discussions with local communities, the authors found that many villagers do not consider glacier loss a serious issue. Some believe that the glaciers will grow again, since they can’t differentiate between temporary snow and the permanent ice on the glacier. Others believe that God will prevent their glacier from disappearing. Researchers found that these notions impede the adaptation process, since people see glacier retreat as a threat that can be resolved by nature or a higher power, rather than through their own actions. The inability to perceive climate change as a factor that contributes to glacier loss makes these communities particularly vulnerable.  “The adequate presentation of information on climate change to all social groups and a social learning process appear to be crucial to avoid a ‘casual structure of vulnerability,’” the authors wrote. Mountain communities in Tajikistan rely on agriculture to support the continually growing population. By 2050, the population in the region is expected to double, reaching 5.093 million. More than 47% of these people live below the national poverty line – most people have never used a computer before and most women are illiterate according to the World Bank. Compared to more developed countries, Tajikistan’s ability to address climate change is limited by a lack of capital and technology to address the issue, the new study found. For people living in remote and less-developed areas, there is not enough money and power to change the current situation. Researchers found that if villagers could unite to develop a collective strategy for adaption to climate change, they may be able to improve the intellectual and general ability of local communities to better understand glacier melt and its impacts, and also to act and adapt collectively.   If communities can learn to understand the interrelationship between the environment they are living in and how heavily their lives depend on it. The authors proposed that mountain communities in Tajikistan use a scenario-based participatory learning process to help villagers better understand how climate change may affect their lives if they don’t start adapting. The scenario-based participating learning process allows scientists and researchers to develop models that assess the challenges that communities will face while also assessing their vulnerability. Many villagers live in areas that are not close to glaciers, so they may not associate glacier melting to their daily lives, but the scenario-based participating learning process is a more visualized method that allows villagers to connect climate related changes to their daily life. When the awareness has been established, people within the community can better cooperate and work towards the same goal. Communities can be taught about labor immigration for the purpose of building water reservoirs, skill training for villagers to learn about agricultural adaptation, engineering for water reservoir construction, irrigation and processing of oil seeds. By forming a strong kinship or social bonding within the community to act together, communities may still have time to improve their adaptation ability, the authors concluded.   Spread the...

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Roundup: Swiss Blankets and Data, Participation in Tajikistan

Posted by on Sep 21, 2015 in All Posts, Featured Posts, News, Policy and Economics, Roundup, Science | 0 comments

Roundup: Swiss Blankets and Data, Participation in Tajikistan

Spread the News:ShareBlankets covering Swiss glacier to halt ice melt is a temporary fix “From a distance, the Rhone glacier seems perfect, but when seen closely, the surface is covered with white blankets for slowing down the melting of the rapidly retreating ice. The dusty, white fleece covers a huge area near the glacier’s edge. But there is a Swiss tourist attraction hidden under the blankets. It is a long and winding ice grotto with shiny blue walls and a leaky ceiling that has been carved into the ice here every year since 1870. While poking at a piece of cloth lying besides the way that leads toward the cave’s opening, David Volken, a glaciologist working with the Swiss environment ministry, said that for the last eight years, they have been covering the ice cave with such blankets to decrease the ice melt.” Click here to read more. A participatory method to enhance the collective ability to adapt to rapid glacier loss: the case of mountain communities in Tajikistan “A 2010 participatory case study in the Zerafshan Range, Tajikistan, disclosed a local lack of awareness of climate change and its consequences. We present a social learning method based on scenarios and visualization. The process exposed a remarkable potential for comprehensive adaptation, including in water harvesting, choice of crops and livestock, environmental enhancement, skills and conflict management. We recommend the approach as a model to promote local collective adaptive capacity development. The case study revealed high risks of massive out-migration from mountain villages if adaptation starts too late: countries with a high proportion of mountain agriculture might see significant losses of agricultural area, a reduction in food production and an increase in conflicts in areas where immigration occurs.” To read more about the study and its findings, click here. Influence of land use and climate change in glacial melt and hydrological process “Land use and climate change play a significant role in hydrological processes. This study assesses the impact of land use and climate change in a snow and glacier dominated high altitude watershed, located in the southwestern part of Switzerland…. Our study shows a decrease in the summer peak flow and an early start of the melt driven peak flow. The major change observed in this study is the rising period of the hydrograph, i.e. in May and June an early shift is observed in the discharge. Independent analysis from land use change and climate change shows that the peak flow reduction occurs as a result of land use change, but the peak flow together with the timing of peak flow occurrence is also influenced by climatic change. The combined effect suggests a reduction of peak flow and early melt driven streamflow in the future. Information obtained from this study can be useful for water managers, especially for the hydropower based energy production sector in the Rhone watershed.” To learn more, click here. Spread the...

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Roundup: Glacial Sounds, Rhythms and Reactions

Posted by on Aug 31, 2015 in All Posts, Featured Posts, Roundup, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Roundup: Glacial Sounds, Rhythms and Reactions

Spread the News:ShareFlutist Claire Chase Captures Glaciers in Music Claire Chase performs “Glacier,” a piece by Japanese composer Dai Fujikura. “…in Chase’s performance of “Glacier” (2010), a solo for bass flute by Dai Fujikura, her breath floated audibly above much of the music, giving it a ghostly quality,” New Focus Recordings writes. “With subtle changes in the angle of the mouthpiece, she was able to invoke the sound of more ancient types of flutes made out of wood, bamboo and stone.” Check out the rest of the album here. El Niño Linked to Glacier Mass Balance in Peruvian Andes “The El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is a major driver of climate variability in the tropical Andes, where recent Niño and Niña events left an observable footprint on glacier mass balance […] We find a stronger and steadier anti-correlation between Pacific sea-surface temperature (SST) and glacier mass balance than previously reported. This relationship is most pronounced during the wet season (December–May) and at low altitudes where Niño (Niña) events are accompanied with a snowfall deficit (excess) and a higher (lower) radiation energy input.” Read more here. Communities in Tajikistan Threatened by Glacier Retreat “The rapid loss of small glaciers worldwide might result in mountain villages changing from having plenty of water during the growing season, to facing a scarcity even in scenarios with adaptation […] A 2010 participatory case study in the Zerafshan Range, Tajikistan, disclosed a local lack of awareness of climate change and its consequences […]The case study revealed high risks of massive out-migration from mountain villages if adaptation starts too late: countries with a high proportion of mountain agriculture might see significant losses of agricultural area, a reduction in food production and an increase in conflicts in areas where immigration occurs.” Read the full study here. Spread the...

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