Recent trends in melting glaciers, tropospheric temperatures over the Himalayas and summer monsoon rainfall over India (2009)

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There are growing concerns about the impact melting glaciers in the Himalayas will have on about 1.5 billion people of vulnerable densely populated communities in downstream river basins. Yet there is huge uncertainty about how snow and glacial melting in the Himalayan region will continue to respond to climate change, and how such change will affect ecosystems and human well-being. There is a notable lack of available observations in order to make robust quantitative assessments about the significance and extent of the issue. The threat associated with the potential consequences is so great that the scant knowledge must not be an excuse for failing to act. Scientific research is critical to help reduce uncertainty and to underpin sustainable mitigation and adaptation strategies.

Climate change is affecting the temperatures, amount of snow and ice in the Himalayan region as well as rainfall patterns in the densely populated downstream regions of Asia which would have enormous significance for livelihood and well being of the people of the region. There is a need to prepare the people, institutions and countries of the region to anticipate the consequences of climate change and evolve suitable and cost-effective adaptation responses. However, there is inadequate availability of information on these processes of change making it both difficult to plan appropriate responses and create public opinion in favour of drastic actions that are needed to address the issues.

An extensive literature review was undertaken and an international expert consultation workshop was organised to begin a multi-stakeholder consultation process and assess the current state of scientific knowledge on climate change over the Himalayas, atmospheric and surface temperature trends and the effect of warming on the glaciers and the monsoons, role of aerosols in both moderating and accentuating warming under differing circumstances and the response of high altitude vegetation to climate change. Additionally, the workshop was also expected to recommend steps to encourage more national and international research initiatives in this direction and broaden access to databases, strengthen national capacities in research, monitoring and data sharing for sustainable development in the region and also to create sufficient awareness among public for wider policy and financial support for necessary action.
Language: English
Imprint: Report from the summary of International Expert Workshop on “Emerging Issues in Climate Change—State of Tropospheric Temperature, Pollution, Melting Glaciers and their Potential Impact on Monsoon and High Altitude Vegetation in the Himalayas-Tibetan Plateau”, December 28-29, New Delhi India. Division of Early Warning and Assessment (DEWA), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) 2009
Series: Report,