Thursday, March 18, 2010, 4:30PM - 5:30PM
Full title: "Himalayan glaciers: Integrating remote sensing, field methods and indigenous knowledge about climate change."
Anecdotal evidence from glacier termini observations in the Himalayas point to “alarming” rates of retreat in the past decades, and rapid formation of moraine-dammed lakes. Recent media reports present contradictory information on either “disappearing glaciers” or “healthy, stagnant glaciers.” Such statements are often supported by dispersed, limited information on glacier trends. Concomitantly, local communities in the Western Himalayas report changes in glacier extents, snow cover and weather patterns. In response to water scarcity, indigenous Himalayan cultures have begun a number of adaptive responses such as meltwater harvesting to construct “artificial” glaciers. Here I compare and contrast spatial patterns of glacier changes in the dry Western Indian Himalaya (Ladakh and Lahul-Spiti) with the wet, monsoon-influenced Eastern Himalaya (Khumbu and Sikkim). I will complement the scientific work with climate changes reported by local communities and recorded in video, oral testimonies and ground photography. This research is the result of field work conducted in India and Nepal over the past five years.