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Review Article: Inferring Permafrost and Permafrost Thaw in the Mountains of the Hindu Kush Himalaya Region
Schmid, M. O.
The cryosphere reacts sensitively to climate change, as evidenced by the widespread retreat of mountain glaciers
. Subsurface ice contained in permafrost is similarly affected by climate change, causing persistent impacts on natural and human systems. In contrast to glaciers, permafrost is not observable spatially and therefore its presence and possible changes are frequently overlooked. Correspondingly, little is known about permafrost in the mountains of the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) region, despite permafrost area exceeding that of glaciers in nearly all countries. Based on evidence and insight gained mostly in other permafrost areas globally, this review provides a synopsis on what is known or can be inferred about permafrost in the mountains of the HKH region. Given the extreme nature of the environment concerned, it is to be expected that the diversity of conditions and phenomena encountered in permafrost exceed what has previously been described and investigated. We further argue that climate change in concert with increasing development will bring about diverse permafrost-related impacts on vegetation, water quality, geohazards, and livelihoods. To better anticipate and mitigate these effects, a deepened understanding of high-elevation permafrost in subtropical latitudes as well as the pathways interconnecting environmental changes and human livelihoods are needed
HIMALA: Climate impacts on glaciers, snow, and hydrology in the Himalayan region
Molly Elizabeth Brown
Sagar R. Bajracharya
Glaciers are the largest reservoir of freshwater on Earth, supporting one third of the world's population
. The Himalaya possess one of the largest resources of snow and ice, which act as a freshwater reservoir for more than 1.3 billion people. This article describes a new project called HIMALA, which focuses on utilizing satellite-based products for better understanding of hydrological processes of the river basins of the region. With support from the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), together with its partners and member countries, has been working on the application of satellite-based rainfall estimates for flood prediction. The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) partners are working with ICIMOD to incorporate snowmelt and glacier melt into a widely used hydrological model. Thus, through improved modeling of the contribution of snow and ice meltwater to river flow in the region, the HIMALA project will improve the ability of ICIMOD and its partners to understand the impact of weather and climate on floods, droughts, and other water- and climate-induced natural hazards in the Himalayan region in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Pakistan
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