Changes in the Lower Limit of Mountain Permafrost between 1973 and 2004 in the Khumbu Himal, the Nepal Himalayas (2007)

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Because the Khumbu Himal of the Nepal Himalayas lacks long-term climate records from weather stations, mountain permafrost degradation serves as an important indicator of climate warming. In 1973, the permafrost lower limit was estimated to be 5200–5300 m above sea level (ASL) on southern-aspect slopes in this region. Using ground-temperature measurements, we examined the mountain permafrost lower limit on slopes with the same aspect in 2004. The results indicate that the permafrost lower limit was 5400–5500 m ASL in 2004. The permafrost lower limit was estimated to be 5400 to 5500 m on slopes with a southern aspect in the Khumbu Himal in 1991 using seismic reflection soundings. Thus, it is possible that the permafrost lower limit has risen 100–300 m between 1973 and 1991, followed by a stable limit of 5400 to 5500 m over the last decade. An increase in mean annual air temperature of approximately 0.2 to 0.4 °C from the 1970s to the 1990s has indicated a rise in the permafrost lower limit of 40 to 80 m at the Tibetan Plateau. The rise in the mountain permafrost lower limit in the Khumbu Himal exceeds that of the Tibetan Plateau, suggesting the possibility of greater climate warming in the Khumbu Himal.
Year: 2007
Language: English
In: Global and Planetary Change, 55 (4): 251-256 p.

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