eKantipur: Himalayas are warming about three times faster than the global average temperature during the last 25 year period, says a new study.
The report made public on Wednesday states the average annual precipitation during the same period has increased by 6.52 millimetre per year in the region. Authored by Uttam Babu Shrestha, Shiva Gautam and Kamaljit Bawa, the study was published in the recent issue of ‘PLoS One‘ journal. It reveals that the average annual mean temperature between 1982 to 2006 has increased by 1.5 degree Celsius with an average increase of 0.06 degree Celsius annually.
This is the first time that large scale climatic and phonological (study of periodic plant and animal life cycle events such as flowering, breeding, and migration, in relation to climatic conditions) changes at the landscape level have been documented in the Himalayas including the major parts of the Greater Hindu-Kush Himalayan mountain system. “The study opens new avenues for carrying out further studies on climate change and its impacts at finer scale in the Himalayas,” said Shrestha, principal author of the scientific paper and a research associate at Harvard University, on Thursday.
The study has covered around 90 percent of the total Himalayan region of Nepal and used satellite based images provided by the US-based National Aeronautic and Space Administration (Nasa). Despite the rapidly increasing ecological degradation in the Himalayas, not much is known about actual changes in the two most critical factors determining the climatic condition—temperature and rainfall. “Our study reaffirmed that Himalayas region is indeed experiencing rapid climate and associated changes in the various eco-regions,” said Shretsha. “Local people have been noticing changes in the growing patterns of plants and our study confirms such changes.”
According to the study, the average start of the growing season seems to have advanced by 4.7 days in the Himalayas. “Much of the recent discussion about climate change in the Himalayas has been dominated by the extent of glacial melting. However, glaciers have not been systematically monitored,” said Bawa, one of the researchers and professor at University of Massachusetts, Boston. “Our study fulfills a critical knowledge gap.”
Due to lack of adequate scientific researches and evidence-based studies, the debate on increasing vulnerability of the Himalayas has failed to draw the required attention during the international negotiations on climate change. “It is almost confirmed that Himalayas are among the regions most vulnerable to climate change,” Shrestha added.
Started in year 2010, ‘Climate Himalaya’ initiative has been working on the mountain and climate related issues in the Himalayan region of South Asia. In the last two years this knowledge sharing portal has become one of the important references for the governments, research institutions, civil society groups and international agencies, those have work and interest in Himalayas. The Climate Himalaya team innovates on knowledge sharing, capacity building and climatic adaptation aspects in its focus countries like Bhutan, India, Nepal and Pakistan. Climate Himalaya’s thematic areas of work are mountain ecosystem, water, forest and livelihood. Read>>