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A scientific assessment of the Third Pole environment

  • UNEP
  • Summary

The Third Pole encompasses the Tibetan Plateau and surrounding areas including the Pamir-Hindu Kush mountain ranges in the west, the Hengduan mountains in the east, the Tienshan and Qilian mountains in the north and the Himalayas in the south.. It contains the largest ice mass outside the polar regions, provides freshwater resources to more than two billion people, regulates the climate, protects biodiversity and is socioeconomically important.

This report, A Scientific Assessment of the Third Pole Environment, is the first comprehensive assessment of environmental changes in the Third Pole that aims to present the latest knowledge on climate, freshwater bodies, ecosystems and biodiversity, and human impact on the environment. It considers the changes that have taken place in the regional environment over the past 2,000 years and especially the changes today. It also looks to the future and provides a scientifically sound evaluation of a region with the largest complex of alpine ecosystems and freshwater systems in the world.

The assessment underlines the complex interactions between the climatic and biophysical environment of the Third Pole, including human influence and the importance of interdisciplinary research to address threats affecting this environment the Third Pole faces today and in the near future.

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  • Publisher Name:
    United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
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